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Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France in Lyons

June 27, 1996

Terrorist Attack in Saudi Arabia

Q. Mr. President, is there any way the tragedy in Saudi Arabia could have been avoided, given the history of terrorism in the Middle East, especially in the aftermath of the agency bombing in Beirut? Why weren't those airmen protected?

President Clinton. Well, as you know, they were behind a fence that gave them a 35-yard cushion, and the bomb was just bigger than anyone calculated could be gotten in that close to the building.

So I think the casualties were far smaller than they would have been had not the security precautions been taken. But you may be sure that the Defense Department and the others who are in charge of this are reviewing the security operations to see what else should be done, to see if we can even do better in the future.

Q. Is there any indication yet who is responsible for that?

President Clinton. We're working on it, but I don't want to announce a conclusion until I know what the facts are. We're working very hard, and so are the Saudis. And I want to thank, I might say if I could, I'd like to thank President Chirac for his expression of condolences and support for the United States. And he said to me—and I hope that you will have some statement coming out later today.

President Chirac. I just want to say to the American press how deeply horrified the French people were at this barbaric act that has been perpetrated in Saudi Arabia. And I can assure you that you have the heartfelt condolences of France to the families of the victims and those who have been wounded and to the American people.

NOTE: The exchange began at 3 p.m. at the Prefecture. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France in Lyons Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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