U.S. businesspeople prefer to conduct business in foreign countries where U.S. embassies are present and would want these facilities to be secure, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said at the general membership luncheon of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce last week.

      In response to a question during the luncheon attended by more than 450 people at the Atlanta Marriott-Gwinnett Place, Mr. Gingrich called for the improved security of U.S. embassies worldwide.

      He also said that the U.S. must rebuild its defense and intelligence communities that have experienced funding cutbacks under the Clinton administration, and he favored proactive intelligence gathering. If you say that you are going after Americans, you are going to put your life at risk, he said.

      The security of embassies in the Middle East already has been improved, he said, because they were perceived to be more at risk.  But it is apparent following the bombings of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, he added, that all embassies must be protected including those throughout Africa and Latin America.

      He also said that he considered it not fair for overseas personnel to have to work in embassies that are not safe.

      A bill to pay for legislation to pay for rebuilding the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and to improve the security of embassies elsewhere is expected to be considered by Congress when it returns from its summer recess.