Bush cancels stop in Kuwait due to security concerns

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

ABU DHABI U.S. President George Bush has canceled a trip to Kuwait because of insufficient security.

Bush had been scheduled to visit Kuwait on Tuesday as part of his Middle East tour. But U.S. diplomatic sources said an advanced U.S. team determined that security in the sheikdom was inadequate for a visit.

Instead, Bush will visit Qatar and meet U.S. soldiers at the Al Udeid air base on Thursday. U.S. Central Command has facilities in Al Udeid. Kuwaiti officials were said to have been taken aback by the cancellation of the Bush visit because of insufficient security. Last week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Kuwait and spent 24 hours in the Gulf Cooperation Council state.

Over the weekend, Kuwaiti authorities investigated a report of a shooting near the U.S. embassy in Kuwait City. U.S. embassy officials termed the shooting a mistake, but witnesses said at least one Kuwaiti officer from the National Guard was seen firing his weapon toward the embassy compound. Earlier, Kuwait arrested two suspected Al Qaida members. The suspected were said to have been interrogated for any link to the suicide strikes in Riyad on May 12.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah said over the weekend that Bush has not canceled his visit to the sheikdom. Instead, the foreign minister said, Bush has postponed his scheduled arrival and will come to the sheikdom at a later unspecified date.

"The postponement of the visit was for several reasons, including those of security," Al Sabah said.

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