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Bush: Wait and See Peru Plane Facts

April 21, 2001

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QUEBEC (AP) _ President Bush said Saturday he will ``wait to see all the facts″ before assigning blame for the deaths of an American missionary and her infant daughter who were killed when their single-engine plane was downed by the Peruvian air force. A U.S. surveillance plane was involved.

The U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, said the surveillance plane had been monitoring Peru’s aircraft, which mistook the missionaries for drug smugglers. Bush and administration officials refused to provide details about the U.S. plane’s involvement in the incident, while the Pentagon would only say that it was not a military plane.

``The United States is certainly upset by the fact that two citizens lost their lives,″ Bush said at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec, a gathering of 34 Western Hemisphere nations, including Peru.

Bush said he planned to discuss the incident with Peruvian Prime Minister Javier Perez de Cuellar on Saturday night.

``I will wait to see all the facts before I reach any conclusions about blame,″ he said.

State Department officials in Washington refused to comment.

In Peru, a U.S. Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to say whether the U.S. aircraft provided the position of the single-engine floater plane.

The official did say that U.S. tracking planes routinely pass along information to Peruvian authorities about suspicious aircraft in the northern jungle region bordering Colombia and Brazil, a common route for cocaine trafficking.

Missionary Veronica ``Ronnie″ Bowers, 35, and her 7-month-old adopted daughter, Charity, were both killed and pilot Kevin Donaldson was wounded, said the Rev. E.C. Haskell, spokesman for the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, whose U.S. base is in New Cumberland, Pa.

Also on board and unhurt were Bowers’ husband, Jim Bowers, 37, and their 6-year-old son Cory, said Haskell. The Bowers family is from Muskegon, Mich., and Donaldson from Morgantown, Pa., Haskell said.

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