Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Bombing Near the United States Embassy Annex in Beirut, Lebanon

September 20, 1984

The President. I know that you're all aware of the tragic event in Beirut with regard to our Embassy. We've been in touch with Reg Bartholomew, our Ambassador there. He has been slightly injured, but we do know that he walked to the hospital for treatment of his wounds on his own.

We know there are several deaths. So far, the only ones we know of are among the Lebanese employees. We know that the suicide vehicle crashed through barricades at the end of the street. It did not enter the compound, but exploded in the street in front of it, with damage to the building. There are a number that are wounded. We have word that a few are critically wounded among the employees. We're still trying to get full information on all of that.

I'd like to express my sympathy to those who have suffered wounds, to the families of those who might be killed. And the State Department will be keeping you informed as we get additional information.

Q. Sir, do you approve of the hounding of Ferraro and Mondale by the antiabortion -- --

The President. [Inaudible]

Q. Do you approve of the hounding of Ferraro and Mondale by antiabortion supporters? They've been docking their heels at every turn.

The President. I don't know anything about that. I'm just going to comment on this particular incident here before we get underway.

Now, Andrea [Andrea Mitchell, NBC News], you had -- --

Q. [Inaudible] -- the condition of Ambassador Bartholomew, Mr. President?

The President. Yes, we have, directly from him. He has been in contact with us. And he claims that he has some cuts, but he is not seriously wounded at all and, as I say, he walked on his own to the treatment center.

Q. Do you think the Embassy annex was adequately protected? What is your judgment of that?

The President. Yes, as I say, they have barriers -- similar to what we have here for a vehicle that has to get through -- at the ends of the street. It negotiated these, was under fire, and exploded in the street. It did not penetrate the barriers leading into the Embassy building. And the force of the explosion was such that it, of course, damaged the building and wounded and killed some people. Now, we don't know, we still do not know how many of those are actually Embassy personnel and how many might simply be people on the street.

Q. What do you think this says about your policy in the Middle East? Some people have said that since the marines were withdrawn we've neglected the Middle East.

The President. Andrea, we know that the worldwide terrorist movement has targeted a great many people, not only our own but of other countries, too, worldwide. And this is a part of that. We've been aware of this. You have to live, and you have to do your best to protect yourself, but you have to know that these terrorist groups are threatening all over the world.

Q. Mr. President, are you going to do anything more at the Embassy in Beirut to support the personnel there?

The President. Are we going to what?

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Well, these are things that are going to be a part of our planning, whatever we can do. But we can't, on the other hand, crawl in a hole someplace and stop performing.

Q. Mr. President, isn't this latest bombing a reminder that your policy in Lebanon has failed?

The President. No. We're aware that this threatens our people wherever they are in the world, because these terrorist groups in many instances -- or most instances are opposed to everything that we stand for.

Now, I'm going to have to get on the 'copter and leave, but I know the State Department will be keeping you informed as we get more information.

Note: The President spoke at 8:32 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, prior to his departure for visits to Iowa and Michigan.

Earlier in the morning, the President was informed of the bombing by Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Robert C. McFarlane. The President discussed the incident by telephone with Assistant to the President James A. Baker III and met with Mr. McFarlane and Secretary of State George P. Shultz prior to speaking with the reporters.

Aboard Air Force One en route to Iowa, the President spoke by telephone with U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Reginald Bartholomew, who was in a Beirut hospital for treatment.