April 18, 1983

Let me begin with a brief statement. As you know, our Embassy in Beirut was the target this morning of a vicious, terrorist bombing. This cowardly act has claimed a number of killed and wounded. It appears that there are some American casualties, but we don't know yet the exact number or the extent of injury.

In cooperation with the Lebanese authorities, we're still verifying the details and identifying the casualties. I commend Ambassador Robert Dillon and his dedicated staff who are carrying on under these traumatic circumstances in the finest tradition of our military and foreign services.

Just a few minutes ago, President Gemayel called me to convey on behalf of the Lebanese people his profound regret and sorrow with regard to this incident and asked me to relay the condolences on behalf of the people of Lebanon to the families of those victims. He also expressed his firm determination that we persevere in the search for peace in that region. And I told President Gemayel that I joined him in those sentiments. This criminal attack on a diplomatic establishment will not deter us from our goals of peace in the region. We will do what we know to be right.

Ambassadors Habib and Draper, who are presently in Beirut, will continue to press in negotiations for the earliest possible, total withdrawal of all external forces.

We also remain committed to the recovery by the Lebanese Government of full sovereignty throughout all of its territory. The people of Lebanon must be given the chance to resume their efforts to lead a normal life, free from violence, without the presence of unauthorized foreign forces on their soil. And to this noble end, I rededicate the efforts of the United States.

Note: The President read the statement at 11:50 a.m. to reporters and guests assembled in the Rose Garden at the White House for the Peace Corps awards presentation ceremony, which followed the President's statement.