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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Bush May Announce Sending of Marines to Liberia Tomorrow

Aired July 2, 2003 - 15:51   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We have been talking about this story all day. Possibly U.S. Marines headed to Liberia.
This now from our senior White House correspondent John King. We're told that President Bush has been discussing sending a force of 500 to 1,000 U.S. troops to Liberia on a peacekeeping mission. And despite Pentagon reservations we are now told that two U.S. officials tell CNN a formal announcement of the new mission could come as early as Thursday.

John King continues to tell us that the president now facing mounting international pressure to have the U.S.-led Liberia mission that would also include western African peacekeepers. U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan and other have talked of a U.S. deployment of 2,00 troops. But U.S. officials tell CNN any deployment would be half that, perhaps even fewer.

So we are told the president about to sign an official documentation come tomorrow sending troops, U.S. Marines to Liberia. Those Marines have been on standby in Spain, it's a story we have been talking about all throughout the day.

We're also told Mr. Bush using different language today urging Liberian President Charles Taylor to step down. In addition, saying that he should leave his war-torn country. White House officials saying that Taylor should leave now or face war crimes at trial later. Many analysts reading it as a sign that Mr. Bush was prepared to accept Taylor going into exile in a country that would not extradite him to face charges as a U.N. court established in Sierra Leon.

Once again, U.S. officials telling CNN a formal announcement sending Marines into Liberia on a peacekeeping mission could happen as soon as tomorrow.

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