Leaders at United Nations embrace war on terrorism but differ on how it should be fought
Saturday, November 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ World leaders embraced the war against terrorism as the top global priority following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, but there were some differences and uncertainty about the way the war should be fought.
Many leaders at Saturday's opening of the U.N. General Assembly's weeklong meeting said the strong U.S.-led military response to the attacks in New York and Washington should not be viewed as the only option.
From Iran to Brazil, leaders declared that the war on terrorism must be a global fight that also addresses root causes ranging from poverty to political repression.
Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his country's dispute with India over Kashmir must be resolved.
``Unless we go to the root causes, cosmetics will only make matters worse,'' he said.
Musharraf has been calling for an early end to the military operation against the ruling Taliban militia in Afghanistan. He and other Muslim leaders fear that the mounting civilian casualties could turn moderate Muslim public opinion against the international campaign to eradicate terrorism.
The emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who also spoke on behalf of the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, said punishing the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is imperative but it ``will not, in my opinion, prevent the repetition of similar or even graver acts in the future.''
``Terrorism has taken root,'' he said, because the world has ignored the plight of oppressed people in many places, especially the Palestinians.
The Qatari leader said terrorism should not be confused with ``legitimate struggles'' against Israeli occupation. It's ``extremely urgent to put an end to the tragedy of the Palestinian people,'' he said.
But Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said the international community ``should reject self-serving arguments seeking to classify terrorism according to its root causes, and therefore justifying terrorist action somewhere while condemning it elsewhere.''
``Those that advance these arguments should explain what the root causes of the brutal acts of Sept. 11 were,'' he said.
In a hard-hitting speech, President Bush said the time for sympathy was over and ``the time for action has now arrived.''
``There is no such thing as a good terrorist,'' he declared. ``We must unite in opposing all terrorists, not just some of them.''
A U.S.-sponsored resolution adopted unanimously by the Security Council on Sept. 28 requires nations to stop financing, supporting and providing sanctuary to terrorists. Bush offered help to countries that lack the means to enforce laws and protect borders, and he warned governments that continue to support and harbor terrorists that ``there is a price to be paid, and it will be paid.''
Bush did not single out nations, but aides had said his words were directed at Lebanon, Syria, Iran and other countries whose commitment to the anti-terrorism effort are under scrutiny. He did, however, reaffirm a commitment to a Palestinian state, something Arab countries want to hear. Israeli diplomats were absent Saturday because of the Jewish sabbath.
Bush is among more than 40 world leaders and over 100 foreign ministers addressing the assembly's annual debate, which ends Nov. 16. The General Assembly's session opened a day late on Sept. 12. The ``general debate,'' scheduled to start on Sept. 24, was delayed for the first time in the United Nations' 56-year history because of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami condemned the attacks as ``brutal and savage,'' but criticized the Bush administration's military response.
Regrettably, he said, the global expectation that political leaders would ``transform strong public sentiment to a logical, just and comprehensive response to terrorism where its root causes could be addressed, has yet to be met.''
The emir of Qatar, echoing this concern, asked: ``Have we actually faced up to this grave situation? Frankly speaking, my answer is no.''
``We are all involved in an unconventional war for which we are not yet prepared,'' he said.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned in his opening speech that the war on terrorism must not be allowed to totally dominate the global agenda because poverty, conflict and human rights abuses that existed before Sept. 11 have not gone away.
If anything, the need to promote peace, development and human rights ``has taken on new urgency,'' Annan said.
A world that respects diversity and universal values can only be achieved, he said, ``if we bring real hope to the billions now trapped in poverty, conflict and disease.''