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Statement About an Arab Terrorist Attack at Leonardo da Vinci Airport, Fiumicino, Italy

December 18, 1973

THE Government and people of the United States are appalled by the tragedy which began yesterday with the heavy loss of innocent lives at the Rome airport, a tragedy which is not yet ended. Our deep regrets and condolences go to the families of the victims of all nationalities.

This new outrage only underlines the urgent necessity to accelerate improvements in international civil aviation security measures and to find international agreement on prosecution of offenders such as those who committed this vicious crime. Terrorists must be made to understand that senseless violence against innocent bystanders, including helpless women and children in this instance, will not be tolerated by people and governments who wish to live in peace and within the law. Governments must resist terrorists' demands since appeasement will not put an end to this international scourge. The United States Government will continue to provide leadership and all possible assistance in this humanitarian endeavor.

The United States Government deplores incidents such as this at any time and particularly when a peaceful settlement of the Middle East question is being sought by many peace-loving governments and individuals. The perpetrators of such atrocities can only delay the day when peace and justice may return to the Middle East.

Note: On Monday, December 17, 1973, five Arab terrorists attacked a Pan American World Airways plane at the airport, killing 32 persons. The terrorists then hijacked a Lufthansa German Airlines plane, forcing it to fly to Athens, Greece, where they released the body of a slain hostage. On Tuesday, December 18, the plane flew to Damascus, Syria, and then on to Kuwait, where the remaining hostages were' released and the hijackers surrendered.

Richard Nixon, Statement About an Arab Terrorist Attack at Leonardo da Vinci Airport, Fiumicino, Italy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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