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Secratary of State Colin Powell Is In Saudi Arabia - 2003-05-13


U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is in Saudi Arabia today where among the main issues he'll discuss with Saudi leaders will be Monday night's terrorist bomb attack against a residential compound in Riyadh, which housed foreigners.

It's believed that at least 10 people were killed and at least 60 injured in the attack. Before heading to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Powell held a news conference in the Jordanian capital, Amman, where he said the attack bears the earmarks of al-Qaida.

Secretary Powell strongly condemned the bombing in Riyadh, saying it was the work of cowards. Mr. Powell said."It reminds us that terrorism is a global phenomenon that we must all fight … the United States will not be deterred from pursuing the interests of peace around the world in the face of this kind of terrorism … cowardly individuals who sneak in during the night and kill innocent civilians."

Mr. Powell said even though the perpetrators were not immediately known, the attack bears the earmarks of al-Qaida. Ma Powell said."I think it's just part of al-Qaida's and other terrorists organizations' willingness to kill innocent people in order to push forward a criminal agenda."

Mr. Powell said he does not believe the bombing was linked to the Israeli Palestinian conflict or any other particular event or issue.

The secretary did say the United States has been concerned about possible terrorist attacks in the region and has issued travel advisories to American citizens. He also said Washington has been working with Saudi Arabia to track down terrorist groups and suspects. He said he would be discussing the issue when meeting with Saudi leaders in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Secretary Powell said the Riyadh bomb attack shows that the war against terrorism is not yet over.

Secretary Powell added,"I believe al-Qaida has been weakened, but it has not been destroyed. It continues to present a threat to the world. And, if al-Qaida ultimately is the one found responsible for what happened in Saudi Arabia overnight, it illustrates that it can still strike. ….. all it says to me is that the war continues, we've made some progress, but it is not over and al Qaida still has the capacity to act."

Mr. Powell said international cooperation remains vital in the war against terrorism.

Mr. Powell winds up the Middle East portion of his trip with the visit to Saudi Arabia. He previously held talks in Jerusalem, the West Bank town of Jericho, Cairo and Amman, where the main aim was to promote the latest international peace plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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