- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2003

CRAWFORD, Texas — President Bush vowed that “the civilized world will not be intimidated” by yesterday’s terrorist attack on U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, insisting peace will prevail in Iraq.

“Terrorists are testing our will,” Mr. Bush said at his ranch. “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.”

The president denounced the terrorists as enemies of the Iraqi people and insisted they will not stop the democratization of Iraq.

“These killers will not determine the future of Iraq,” he said. “Iraq is on an irreversible course toward self-government and peace. And America and our friends and the United Nations will stand with the Iraqi people as they reclaim their nation and their future.”

Mr. Bush cut short a golf game after learning of yesterday’s attack through a phone call from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Returning to his ranch, he phoned L. Paul Bremer III, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, and directed him to provide “all possible assistance to the rescue and recovery effort.” He also called U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to express U.S. condolences.

“To those who suffer, I extend the sympathy of the American people,” the president said shortly before news broke that the U.N.’s top envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, died from injuries suffered in the attack.

Mr. Bush said the Baghdad bombing starkly illustrated the choice facing the Iraqi people in the wake of the war that deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.

“Iraqi people face a challenge, and they face a choice,” he said. “The terrorists want to return to the days of torture chambers and mass graves.

“The Iraqis who want peace and freedom must reject them and fight terror,” he added. “And the United States and many in the world will be there to help them.”

Mr. Bush denounced the attackers in unusually strong terms, referring to them repeatedly as “terrorists” in addition to the usual characterization of them as remnants of Saddam’s regime.

“The terrorists who struck today have again shown their contempt for the innocent,” he said. “They showed their fear of progress and their hatred of peace.

“They are the enemies of the Iraqi people,” he added. “By their tactics and their targets, these murderers reveal themselves once more as enemies of the civilized world.”

Even as he pledged to push ahead with the democratization of Iraq, the president acknowledged the process could spark additional attacks.

“Every sign of progress in Iraq adds to the desperation of the terrorists and the remnants of Saddam’s brutal regime,” Mr. Bush said.

Less than an hour before yesterday’s blast, Mr. Bush spoke of a brighter future for Iraq. He lauded the capture of Saddam’s vice president and predicted Saddam himself would eventually be found and brought “to justice.”

“There is an international effort going on that will help Iraq reconstruct itself and help Iraq develop into a peaceful, democratic country,” the president told reporters.

“A free Iraq will no longer serve as a haven for terrorists or as a place for terrorists to get money or arms,” he added. “A free Iraq will make the Middle East a more peaceful place.”

Shortly after the bombing in Baghdad, a suicide bomber blew up a bus in Jerusalem, killing at least 18 and injuring more than 100. The blast came just hours after Mr. Bush had expressed satisfaction with a recent Middle East cease-fire.

“I’m happy there’s calm,” he said. “Calm is good. The fact that people aren’t dying is good. But the ultimate solution — and this can happen quickly, in my judgment — is to find those who believe killing is the best approach to dealing with the very difficult problems in the Middle East.”

The president suggested the United States would be willing to provide Palestinians additional aid if that would help end terrorism.

“The Palestinian Authority needs to continue to work with the United States and others who are interested in dismantling terrorist organizations and ask for the help necessary, so they can go and do what they need to do — which is dismantle and destroy organizations which are interested in killing innocent lives in order to prevent a peace process from going forward,” he said.

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