WASHINGTON – President Bush and first lady Laura Bush took a rainy motorcade ride to the Chinese Embassy on Tuesday to sign a condolence book extending U.S. sympathy to those killed in the massive earthquake there.
"We stand with you during this tragic moment as you mourn the loss of so many of your loved ones and search for those still missing," Bush wrote.
Bush sat at an oval table, a mural of the Great Wall behind him, to write nearly a full page of remarks. He told the Chinese people that he admired the strength of character they've shown in the aftermath of the quake and offered them comforting words as they face the challenges of the disaster.
"I admire the generosity of spirit and the strength of character shown by the Chinese people as you confront this natural disaster," he wrote "Our country stands ready to assist in any manner that China deems helpful."
Mrs. Bush finished off the page in the large book, extending "love and sympathy to the people of China from the people of the United States."
After signing the book, the two stood for a moment of silence in front of a large, black wall-sized banner written with Chinese words that conveyed condolences to the victims of the May 12 earthquake. China's Cabinet has raised the overall confirmed death toll to 40,075. Officials have said the final number killed by the quake is expected to surpass 50,000.
After the moment of silence, Bush said: "We extend our deepest sympathies. We pray for recovery and we extend sympathy to those whose lives have been torn apart."