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Remarks on Departure from Entebbe, Uganda, and an Exchange With Reporters

March 25, 1998

Jonesboro Incident

The President. Just before I left the hotel this morning, I talked to the Governor of Arkansas and extended my personal condolences and sorrow about the terrible incident in Jonesboro yesterday. I attempted to call the mayor who is an old friend of mine, but I haven't reached him yet.

I just want to say again how profoundly sad I am and how disturbed I am. I've been thinking about this for the last several hours. This is the third incident in the last few months involving young children and violence in schools, and I'm going to ask the Attorney General to find whatever experts there are in our country on this and try to analyze this terrible tragedy to see whether there are any common elements in this incident and the other two, and whether it indicates any further action on our part.

Today the people in my home State and a town I know very well are grieving. They're suffering losses. And we should focus on that. But I do think, in the weeks to come, we have to analyze these incidents and see whether or not we can learn anything that will tell us what we can do to prevent further ones.

Q. Do you have any thoughts about how to stop this? I mean, if you've been thinking about it, anything come to mind, sir?

The President. I don't want to say too much until we have a chance to analyze them. I don't know enough about the facts of this incident. The facts of this incident are just now coming out. I've read, obviously, all the latest wire reports I can get, and frankly I'm not sure I know enough about the other two to draw any conclusions.

I don't want the American people to jump to any conclusions, but when three horrible tragedies like this involving young people who take other people's lives and then in the process destroy their own, we have to see if there are some common elements. And we'll look and do our best to do the right thing.

Q. Do you suspect that there are some common elements, sir?

The President. Well, the circumstances certainly seem to have a lot in common. What we need to know is what's behind the circumstances. As I said, I think that the American people today should send their thoughts, their prayers, their hopes to the people in Jonesboro.

But in the weeks ahead, we need to look into this very closely and see what, if anything, we can find. And then, if we do find some patterns, we ought to take whatever action seems appropriate.

President's Visit to Rwanda

Q. Your trip to Rwanda, could you give us just a little advance word of what you hope to accomplish there, sir?

The President. Obviously, I hope that my trip there will help to avoid further killing along the ethnic lines and bring the attention of the world to this in a way that will have an impact on ethnic conflicts in other parts of the world.

And then I'm going to come back here to the regional meeting that President Museveni has agreed to host, and I hope we'll come out with a statement there that will allow us to make further progress.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:05 a.m. at Entebbe Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas; Mayor Hubert A. Brodell of Jonesboro, AR; and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on Departure from Entebbe, Uganda, and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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