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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Bush Will Sign Order to Send Troops to Liberia

Aired July 2, 2003 - 15:55   ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: If you're just tuning in to CNN, we have been talking about the story happening within just a few moments ago. U.S. officials telling our senior White House correspondent John King a formal announcement due to come out tomorrow, a mission assigned by the president sending Marines into Liberia on a peacekeeping mission.
I'm told now we have John King live at the White House with more on this developing news. John, what can you tell us?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, some of the details still to be worked out, but CNN is told by two senior officials that an announcement could come as early as tomorrow, not definitely, but could come as early as tomorrow.

We are told the president is prepared to authorize a force of between 500 and 1,000 American troops. They would lead a peacekeeping force in the western African nation of Liberia. Western African nations also slated to take part in that peacekeeping force.

This was all discussed at a National Security Council meeting this morning. One administration official saying this is a done deal, another administration official saying some details still need to be worked out. That official expressing a bit of caution.

But the bottom line is a president who earlier today was defending the deployment in Iraq, who already has deployed U.S. troops to Afghanistan is poised, CNN is told, to now standing under mounting international pressure a U.S. force of about 500 to 1,000 U.S. troops into Liberia, a peacekeeping force trying to bring about a cease-fire that was negotiated but has collapsed.

Mr. Bush also insisting today that for there to be peace and stability in the western African nation of Liberia that in his view President Charles Taylor must not only step down but must leave the country. Last week the president said President Taylor should step down. Mr. Bush adding today that he believes president Taylor should leave the country.

Again, though, Kyra, we're told perhaps as early as tomorrow President Bush will announce that the U.S. will commit somewhere between 500 and 1,000 troops to lead a peace peacekeeping force in Liberia.

PHILLIPS: And also President Bush expected to head to Africa next week. What is the status of that trip, John?

KING: Well that is one of the reasons the president is under such pressure here. he says his trip to Africa, which he will leave this weekend, five nations in five days. Mr. Bush says that trip is to show his commitment to promote peace, democracy, stability, economic development and to help lead the war on AIDS in Africa. And many of those African nations are now saying, prove it. Prove your commitment by stepping in in a country that was founded by U.S. slaves in Africa, that has been at war for 14 years, more than 200,000 dead. Officials in Africa and the United Nations saying prove your commitment, put U.S. troops at the head of a peacekeeping force.

PHILLIPS: All right, with the breaking news from the White House. John, thanks so much.

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