Albright to seek aid for Africa Kenya, Tanzania need 'substantial' funds as compensation for blast

Pakistan holds 2 suspects

Secretary of state tours embassies, areas damaged in bombings

August 19, 1998|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, after assessing the damage and visiting the victims of the twin U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, said yesterday that she would seek supplemental funds from Congress to compensate Kenya and Tanzania.

She declined to say how much the administration will request when Congress returns from its summer recess but said it would be "substantial."

Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities said last night that they arrested two more suspects in the bombings with the help of descriptions provided by suspect Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, the New York Times reported. The men were arrested Monday as they were trying to cross into Afghanistan at Torkham, in the Khyber Pass.

Odeh, who was seized Aug. 7 as he tried to enter Pakistan from Kenya with a fake passport, named the two as accomplices when he was interrogated last week. The two other suspects -- one a Saudi and the other a Sudanese -- also had fake Yemeni passports, but they had slipped past immigration police in Karachi, the Times reported.

Albright, inspecting the shattered U.S. Embassy and surrounding buildings here, said yesterday that, "Our efforts to rebuild from this tragedy are far from complete. They must and will continue."

The administration, she said, would also seek extra funds to relocate or improve its embassies. The Nairobi embassy would not be rebuilt on the busy downtown corner which made it an easy target for attack, she said.

Noting that the U.S. had 240 diplomatic missions around the world, she said, "While this is a huge tragedy and disaster here, xTC it is not what I would call a wake-up call. We have been awake a long time. We just don't have the resources to be able to do as thorough a job [on embassy security] as we would like."

'There is no reason'

In a strong message to Congress, she said: "It is very hard to carry on the foreign policy of the United States without sufficient funds -- that goes for the buildings and it goes for the program."

During what she called "an emotional day" she visited the embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, where almost simultaneous bomb blasts Aug. 7 killed 257 people -- 12 of them Americans -- and injured more than 5,000. Kenyan Foreign Minister Bonaya Godama pointed out that 20 Kenyans died for every American.

Albright acknowledged that local people in each country would not have died but for the presence of Americans, the principle target of the bombers. But she said that the U.S. was present in foreign countries to help improve lives, freedom and democracy.

"We are not going to be, as a nation, intimidated by terrorists whose only goal is to disrupt the rest of the world," she said after visiting the injured in Kenyatta National Hospital here.

Earlier, before laying a wreath at the rubble memorial to victims of the Nairobi blast, she said: "Why should this nation of good and proud people be singled out, along with Tanzania? There is no reason. But terrorism is not about reason. It is about hatred. It is about destruction."

Morale boost

Her trip was meant to bolster morale among the embassy staffs, extend sympathy to the bereaved and injured, and reassure the stricken nations that help was on the way.

Noting criticism by Kenyans of the initial response to the explosion, when U.S. Marines were accused of giving priority to securing the embassy while ignoring the suffering of those outside, she said: "I know there is anguish about what happened in the aftermath of the bombing, and I can't say we acted perfectly."

The Marines, she said, were concerned about the building collapsing, burning fuel tanks exploding, and the possibility of a second attack.

"But I believe allegations of callousness are wrong," she said, adding that "misunderstandings" were inevitable in such stressed circumstances.

In Dar es Salaam, she told the embassy staff: "America is very proud of you, all of you -- Americans and Tanzanians. I am truly in the presence of heroes."

Pub Date: 8/19/98

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