BEIJING – President Bush condemned the slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, saying the murder will only strengthen the United States' determination to fight terrorism.
A grim-faced Bush spoke from a lectern Friday at his hotel in Beijing, on the last leg of his six-day Asia tour.
"Laura and I and the American people are deeply saddened to learn about the loss of Daniel Pearl's life," Bush said. "We are really sad for his wife and his parents and his friends and colleagues who have been clinging to hopes for weeks that he would be found alive."
Pearl's wife, Mariane, is seven months pregnant with their first child. Bush expressed special sympathy for the unborn baby, "who will now know his father only through the memory of others."
"All Americans are sad and angry to learn of the murder," Bush said. "May God bless Daniel Pearl."
Noting the presence there of other American journalists, as well as diplomats and humanitarian aid workers, in other countries, Bush warned any would-be kidnappers not to stir the United States' ire with attacks or more abductions.
"Those who would threaten Americans, those who would engage in criminal, barbaric acts need to know that these crimes only hurt their cause, and only deepen the resolve of the United States of America to rid the world of these agents of terror," Bush said.
White House officials said Bush got first word of Pearl's death from a television he was watching while working out Friday morning in the gym of his hotel. Bush contacted chief of staff Andy Card to confirm that the journalist was dead.
Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters aboard Air Force One on the return flight from Asia that Bush returned a call to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who expressed "deep regret" over Pearl's death.
"President Musharraf took it pretty hard because he was trying to do everything he could to keep that from happening," Powell said.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said the State Department's consul general in Karachi had delivered the news of Pearl's death in person to his wife and had notified Pearl's family by phone. Consul officials were staying with Mrs. Pearl, at her request, as she decides whether to stay in Pakistan, Powell said.
Powell said U.S. officials did not know when Pearl was killed, but that they hoped evidence would help them ascertain the circumstances and time of his death.
The State Department announced Pearl's death based on evidence received at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. State spokesman Richard Boucher did not reveal details about the evidence, but two U.S. officials said the FBI was evaluating the authenticity of a videotape purportedly showing Pearl either dead or being killed.
In Washington, Attorney General John Ashcroft expressed his condolences and pledged to track down those responsible.
"As Americans, we remain steadfast in our fight against terrorism. We will bring to justice terrorists who kill Americans," he said in a statement.
Members of Congress expressed shock and outrage over Pearl's death, and demanded that U.S. and Pakistani investigators quickly bring his killers to justice.
"Daniel Pearl was a public servant in the truest sense," said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo. "This is a true American tragedy."
"This is an act of base criminality fueled by mindless hatred that served no cause and wounds all of humanity," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.