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CNN BREAKING NEWS

White House Reaction to Bombing of U.N. Headquarters

Aired August 19, 2003 - 13:05   ET

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

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Today's attack interrupted President Bush's vacation. Mr. Bush cut short a round of golf, returned to his ranch in Texas to give the situation his full attention, and to condemn the attack in some strong terms.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux standing by in Crawford with the latest from there.

Hello -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.

Well, President Bush was playing golf when he got the news early this morning from his national security adviser. He was briefed on the situation. It became very clear that he had to leave his golf game. He left about the 12th hole, so he could go to the Crawford ranch to get better updated on the situation, as well as addressing the American people, but more importantly addressing the international community.

The president saying, of course, that it was with great resolve that the United States, as well as other countries, would fight terrorism. The president on the phone with the civil administrator, Paul Bremer, early this morning, as well as making a call to the U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan.

The president famed it this way, saying that it was not just an attack against the United States or even the international community, but rather against the Iraqi people as well -- that they, too, had to face the fact that there are terrorists in their own country, or go back to the days of Saddam Hussein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All nations of the world face a challenge and a choice. By attempting to spread chaos and fear, terrorists are testing our will. Across the world, they are finding that our will cannot be shaken. We will persevere through every hardship. We will continue this war on terror until the killers are brought to justice, and we will prevail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And, Miles, of course, a big challenge for the administration is to make sure that it still has the international support, the backing of the international community in this reconstruction effort inside of Iraq. As you know, there are 139,000 U.S. troops on the ground, an additional 21,000 from some 18 different countries.

But, of course, the administration has also been trying to solicit the support of another dozen countries or so. They have been met with some reluctance.

And, as you know, the United Nations, this mission here was a humanitarian one. And so, the big question is, is whether or not it is worth it to stick around -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: And I guess the question would be: Would this increase the resolve of those that are there, or perhaps scare them away?

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely. And one of the reasons why the president came out this morning is that he addressed that very issue -- that he wants to make sure that the morale is strong among the U.S. troops that are on the ground, but as well as all of those soldiers from those different communities, those different countries that are also involved in this reconstruction effort, and those who are involved in the humanitarian effort.

But the big question is, yes, is this going to make them even more resolved, or is it going to make them pull away? This is something that the administration, of course, is going to have to deal with in the weeks to come.

O'BRIEN: Suzanne Malveaux in Crawford, thanks.

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