05 August 2003
U.S. Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attack in Jakarta
White House Report, August 5: Indonesia, U.S.-Israel, Liberia, Colombia
The U.S. is prepared to assist Indonesia in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the August 5 terrorist attack in Jakarta , White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters at a briefing in Crawford Texas.
A car bomb exploded at the JW Marriott Hotel in central Jakarta, killing more than ten people and injuring over one hundred, according to reports.
"(W)e strongly condemn this terrorist attack in Jakarta," said McClellan. "This is a deplorable attack on innocent civilians, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their families. We fully support (Indonesian) President Megawati and her administration in their efforts to fight terror and rout out terrorism. And we stand fully prepared to assist in any way possible in bringing those responsible to justice."
"(T)his terrorist attack on innocent civilians is a reminder that we are still waging a global war on terrorism, and the global coalition remains steadfast in our efforts to pursue terrorists and bring them to justice."
McClellan said the U.S. is making important progress in dismantling and disrupting terrorist networks, "but the war continues, and we will not stop until we have disrupted, dismantled, and defeated these terrorist organizations."
Asked if there were suspicions that the bombing was related to the August 3 threats reportedly made by an al Qaeda operative, McClellan said, "Let's let the investigation and facts come out. And then we'll have more at that point. But I think it's premature to discuss that at this point."
U.S., ISRAEL CONTINUE TALKS ON ISRAELI SECURITY FENCE
The U.S. continues to have talks with Israel about the security fence it is building in the West Bank, said McClellan.
"(W)e have expressed our concerns to the Israelis about the fence," he said. "We've urged the Israelis to consider the route that the fence is taking. The Israelis have stated that they are considering the route of the fence to minimize the impact on the daily lives of the Palestinian people. And they will take our views under consideration. We will continue to talk directly with the Israelis. The president committed to an open dialogue on this issue, as well as many other issues."
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Bush addressed the security fence when Sharon visited the White House July 31.
"The Israelis understand our concerns and they said that they would act to minimize the impact on the daily lives of the Palestinian people," said McClellan. "And what we want to do is continue to discuss that directly with the Israelis, continue to have an open dialogue about this issue so we can keep things moving forward in the Middle East peace process."
Asked whether the U.S. would reduce loan guarantees to Israel because of the continued construction of the fence, McClellan said that "as this point, no decisions have been made regarding the loan guarantees and speculation in the media at this point is a little premature."
McClellan said that the U.S. continues to provide assistance to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority to "keep them focused on moving forward on the road map, and moving forward on the peace process."
"We'll continue to monitor the situation and work with the parties to keep the dialogue moving forward. It's important for the parties to continue talking about how to build upon the progress over there that we have made. And that's what we will continue to do."
CHARLES TAYLOR MUST LEAVE LIBERIA
Asked about the U.S. response to the request of Liberia's President Charles Taylor that war crimes charges against him be dropped before he leaves the country, McClellan said, "Our position is very clear, he needs to leave the country. And that's the first thing -- first things first."
"We continue to urge" him "to act on his words and leave, so that other "issues can be addressed."
"(W)e remain encouraged by the deployment of the initial vanguard forces into Liberia," said McClellan.
West African peacekeepers arrived in Monrovia August 4 to begin a peace process in the nation.
McClellan said the U.S. continues to urge all parties to cease fighting, to pull back and to abide by the terms of the cease-fire agreement.
"We continue to urge the parties to focus ... all their efforts on the peace talks in Accra," he said.
U.S. FINALIZING REVIEW ON RESUMING ANTI-DRUG FLIGHTS OVER COLOMBIA
Asked whether President Bush has decided to resume flights over Colombia to counter drug trafficking in that area, McClellan responded by issuing the following statement:
"The State Department led a rigorous and thorough interagency review process during the past year and a half to develop procedures which would ensure appropriate support from the United States for a safe Air Bridge Denial program in Colombia. We are in the final stages of review and evaluation. The President's overriding concern is to support our allies in Colombia to address the threat to their national security posed by illegal drug trafficking while ensuring that procedures are in place to protect innocent life."
The United States stopped such flights two years ago after an American woman and her baby were killed when the plane her missionary husband was piloting was accidentally shot down.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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