The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 18, 2005

Statement on President Requesting Senator Lugar to Travel to Algeria to Facilitate Release of Moroccan Prisoners

At the request of the President, Senator Richard Lugar traveled to Algeria today to facilitate the release of all remaining 404 Moroccan prisoners of war held by the Polisario. Their release is the product of quiet and intense diplomatic efforts among the United States, Morocco, and Algeria. This humanitarian success was achieved in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United States Department of Defense, which procured the aircraft that are returning the prisoners to Moroccan soil.

Senator Lugar met this morning with President Bouteflika for a wide-ranging discussion on bilateral relations, the global war on terror, and other regional issues. Senator Lugar is now en route to Morocco to ensure the safe homecoming of the former prisoners. There he will meet with Moroccan officials to reaffirm strong U.S.-Moroccan ties, discuss continued U.S.-Moroccan cooperation on counterterrorism and promoting democracy in the region, and congratulate Morocco on the success of its diplomatic efforts to win the release of the prisoners.

Senator Lugar will also travel to Libya for official meetings as a part of the President's initiative to move toward more normal relations reflecting that country's renunciation of terrorism and abandonment of its weapons of mass destruction and longer range missiles.

The President is grateful to Senator Lugar and his staff for undertaking this mission and for delivering important messages to our friends in the region.

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