Four days of rioting in Cincinnati prompted President Bush to telephone Attorney General John Ashcroft on Thursday and discuss ways the federal government can "help calm and resolve the situation."

"The president understands the very strong emotions involved and he joins Cincinnati and Ohio leaders in their appeal to the people of Cincinnati for calm and a nonviolent resolution to the current situation," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

Two senior community-relations officials from the Justice Department were sent to Cincinnati early on Wednesday to mediate talks between community leaders and city officials struggling to restore order.

Those Justice Department representatives have met with Mayor Charles Luken, the local NAACP president, a ministers' alliance and others, Fleischer said.

Luken declared a state of emergency and announced on Thursday a citywide curfew to try and stop the rioting which was sparked over the weekend by the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man.