U.S. President George W. Bush says the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Iraq will not halt efforts to bring peace and democracy to that country. Mr. Bush says the United States will do all it can to help rescue efforts and bring those responsible for the attack to justice.
President Bush denounced the bombing in the strongest possible terms. At the same time, he left no doubt the work of reconstruction will go on. He said those killed and injured in the bombing were on a purely humanitarian mission that must and will continue. "The civilized world will not be intimidated and these killers will not determine the future of Iraq," he said.
In brief remarks broadcast from his Texas ranch, the president referred to the bombers as terrorists who show contempt for innocent life, calling them the enemies of the Iraqi people and the enemies of every nation that seeks to help the Iraqi people.
"By their tactics and their targets these murderers reveal themselves once more as enemies of the civilized world," he said. "Every sign of progress in Iraq adds to the desperation of the terrorists and the remnants of Saddam's brutal regime."
He said Iraq has been liberated from a dictator and is on an irreversible course toward self-government and peace. The president vowed the United States and the United Nations will stand with the Iraqi people as "they reclaim their nation."
"The Iraqi people face a challenge and they face a choice," Mr. Bush stressed. "The terrorists want to return to the days of torture chambers and mass graves. The Iraqis who want peace and freedom must reject them and fight terror."
A short time earlier, Mr. Bush spoke by telephone with the top U.S. official in Iraq, Paul Bremer, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The president said he ordered Mr. Bremer to provide all possible assistance to the rescue operation. He said he offered the secretary-general his condolences, and a promise that the reconstruction effort will go on.
The tragic news from Baghdad came on a day that began on a high note for the Bush administration. It was early in the morning in Texas when President Bush learned of the capture of Saddam Hussein's former vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan. He talked about the development before heading off to play golf near his ranch. "I'm really pleased that we've captured the vice president," he said. "Slowly but surely, we will find who we need to find. It is just a matter of time."
Mr. Bush was on the golf course when he got word of the Baghdad bombing in a telephone call from his national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice. He immediately returned to his ranch to monitor the situation, contact Mr. Bremer and Secretary General Annan and prepare his broadcast response.