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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 9, 2003
Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Clashes between Liberian government and rebel forces in the vicinity of the United States Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia and the potential for further deterioration of the security environment in Liberia render the safety of the United States Embassy and its occupants uncertain.
On June 7, 2003, an assessment team and standby response and evacuation force of approximately 35 U.S. military personnel from the U.S. European Command were pre-positioned in Freetown, Sierra Leone. On June 8, 2003, these forces moved into Monrovia, Liberia to augment the Embassy security forces and to aid in the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Liberia if required.
Additionally, on June 8, 2003, a coup attempt occurred in Mauritania. Fighting has been reported in the vicinity of the United States Embassy. This fighting continued during the morning of June 9 in the center of Nouakchott, about three kilometers from the Embassy. At the request of the United States Embassy, an assessment team and standby response and evacuation force of an estimated 34 U.S. military personnel from the U.S. European Command are being sent to Nouakchott, Mauritania and are expected to arrive on June 10, 2003. Their mission is to augment the Embassy security forces and to aid in the evacuation of American citizens from Mauritania if required.
In addition to the forces noted above, several fixed wing aircraft and their aircrew have been pre-positioned in Dakar, Senegal in order to shorten the response time should an evacuation of American citizens from either Liberia or Mauritania be required.
Although in both cases the U.S. forces are equipped for combat, these movements were undertaken solely for the purpose of protecting American citizens and property. United States forces will redeploy as soon as it is determined that the threats to the Embassy compounds have ended or an evacuation, if necessary, is completed.
I have taken this action pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution.
I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions.
GEORGE W. BUSH
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