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Bush Condemns Madrid Train Bombings - 2004-03-11

President Bush has telephoned Spanish leaders to express his condolences for a series of bombings in Madrid that have killed at least 186 people and injured more than 600.

President Bush condemned what the White House calls "this vicious act of terrorism" in the strongest possible terms.

In calls to King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, Mr. Bush said he expressed his deepest sympathies for those who lost their lives and asked for God's blessing on those who suffer in what he called, "the great country of Spain."

"I told them we weep with the families," he said. "We stand strongly with the people of Spain. I appreciate so very much the Spanish government's fight against terror, their resolute stand against terrorist organizations like the ETA. And the United States stands with them."

ETA is a Basque separatist group that has carried out a 30-year campaign of violence against the Spanish government. While there has been no claim of responsibility for the rush-hour bombings, Spain's Interior Minister has said he has no doubt that ETA is behind the deaths.

The leader of an outlawed Basque political party denied those claims, suggesting instead what he calls "Arab resistance."

Spain has strongly supported President Bush's in the fight against terrorism and war in Iraq. Along with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Aznar gave President Bush important European backing for the U.S. led invasion at a time when France and Germany were calling for more U.N. weapons inspections.

Prime Minister Aznar backed President Bush on Iraq despite popular opposition within Spain. There are now more than 1,300 Spanish troops serving in Iraq.