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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

White House Offers Support, Condolences to Israel, United Nations

Aired August 19, 2003 - 19:10   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now let's get some reaction from the White House on both of our top stories. For that, we go to Crawford, Texas, and our Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, it's been a very difficult day for the Bush administration. But Secretary Powell did call Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to offer his sympathy and condolences.

We're also told by a State Department official he's expected to contact the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, as well.

It was earlier today President Bush had expressed a good deal of optimism that it was calm in the region before this had actually happened. Later in the day, a White House spokesman condemned this latest attack in the strongest of terms, calling it a vicious act of terror.

We are being told that, of course, that they're trying to get the Palestinian authority to crack down, to dismantle these terrorist organizations, at the same time really trying to get Israelis -- Israel, rather, to exercise some restraint in this. But obviously a very difficult moment for these negotiations at this time -- Daryn.

KAGAN: And then, Suzanne, what about our other top story, the events in Baghdad this day now unfolding? Anything like President Bush would have expected as he headed to the golf course early today?

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely a very difficult day. The president received that news of the blast that hit the United Nations when he was on the golf course. He received a call from his national security adviser. He immediately went to the Crawford ranch whether he made calls of his own to the U.S. civil administrator, Paul Bremer, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to offer any type of assistance that he could.

Then, the president then made a statement. He really framed the latest attack against the Iraqi people, and used this occasion to call for their help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The terrorists who struck today have again shown their contempt for the innocent. They showed their fear of progress and their hatred of peace. They are the enemies of the Iraqi people. They are the enemies of every nation that seeks to help the Iraqi people. By their tactics and their targets, these murderers reveal themselves once more as enemies of the civilized world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And Daryn, just within the last hour, the president released a statement expressing his condolences, the loss of life of de Mello.

And also we have been told that, of course, there is a debate taking place within the Bush administration. There are some who believe that this may deter those who were involved in the reconstruction effort inside of Iraq.

There are others, however, senior administration official speaking with me late this evening saying he thought it was a moment, perhaps a galvanizing moment, because there is such outrage in the international community that perhaps more countries will get involved in working towards democracy inside of that country -- Daryn.

KAGAN: We will see how it unfolds. Suzanne Malveaux in Crawford. Thank you for that.

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