Bush briefed on ”serious” Strait of Hormuz incident
American President George W. Bush on Sunday visited the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet in Bahrain amid new tensions with Iran over an incident in which the United States claims its ships were harassed in the Strait of Hormuz.
Bush visited Bahrain, which hosts the Fifth Fleet, on the second stop in his tour of Arab states aimed in part at rallying support against Iran.
Bush discussed the Strait of Hormuz incident with Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of the Fifth Fleet, who made clear that his forces took it "deadly seriously," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters traveling with Bush. "All of the people in the military remember what's happened in the past such as the USS Cole," she said, according to Reuters. Seventeen sailors died in October 2000 in an attack on the USS Cole.
Perino said Cosgriff told the president that he took it very seriously when an Iranian fleet of high-speed boats on Jan. 6 charged at and threatened to blow up a three-ship U.S. Navy convoy passing near Iranian waters. The Iranian naval forces vanished as the American ship commanders were preparing to open fire.
"The media may be free to second-guess the military decision, but his (Bush's) captains are not and they take it very seriously," Perino told reporters aboard Air Force One. "They have deliberate and measured ways to engage other traffic there in the Strait of Hormuz, which they did."
Bush later on Sunday will visit the United Arab Emirates and make his "signature" speech of the trip on advancing democracy. He will also visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt this week as he tries to rally Arab support for his Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking efforts.