Bush's message to the world gets welcome from allies, defiance from Taliban

Friday, September 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ America's allies on Friday applauded President Bush's carefully worded call to fight terrorism but worried about setting off an uncontrollable cycle of retaliation.

Bush's message to the world during Thursday's address to Congress was clear _ ``Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.''

The speech brought a round of renewed vows from U.S. allies to do what they can to help win the war against terrorism _ though what exactly that war will entail remains a question mark.

``The most important thing is to demonstrate prudence,'' Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen told Parliament in a statement that was echoed by leaders worldwide. ``The legitimacy of any actions is also important.''

Danish Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft, said the advantage of forging a global coalition against terrorism is ``that (the Americans) will listen to what worries the whole coalition will have to the means that will be used.''

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, leader of one of America's closest allies, expressed no reservations in declaring that his country stood ready to help the United States against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, believed to have killed more than 6,000 people.

``This is a struggle that concerns us all, the whole of the democratic and civilized and free world,'' said Blair, who watched the speech from the House gallery in a seat next to First Lady Laura Bush. ``I give you, on behalf of our country, our solidarity, our sympathy and support.''

Bush emphasized that last week's jetliner attacks in New York City and Washington were not just strikes against America, but against the global community.

``This is the world's fight,'' Bush said.

Czech President Vaclav Havel said he agreed entirely with Bush's call for every nation to join in a war against global terrorism.

This ``is not a war against a state, a nation, or a religion,'' Havel told reporters. ``It is a war against terrorists.''

But Bush's forceful demands, particularly to Afghanistan's ruling Taliban to immediately surrender Osama bin Laden and his fighters ``or they will share their fate,'' were met with derision or anger in some parts of the world.

In Pakistan, Bush was burned in effigy as thousands of hard-line Muslims protested their country's decision to cooperate against neighboring Afghanistan.

In the Middle East, defiant voices were raised mainly in mosques as Islamic clerics called America's newly declared war an attack on Islam.

Cleric Bakir Abdul-Razak condemned ``the new crusade'' as ``war with a new cover'' in prayers carried on Iraqi state TV.

``By God's will, the Americans will not have an upper hand on us,'' the Iraqi cleric said. ``We call for jihad (holy war), and we defy you, the Americans.''

In Amman, Jordan, cleric Mussa Abu-Sweilem said that ``the Muslim people are united, just like one body.''

At a news conference in Pakistan, the Taliban ambassador said he was sorry that people had died in the suicide attacks, but appealed to the United States not to endanger innocent people in a military retaliation.

``Our position on this is that if America has proof, we are ready for the trial of Osama bin Laden in light of the evidence,'' he said.

Asked if he was ready to hand over bin Laden, he snapped, ``No.''

Sergei Rogov, the head of the USA Canada Institute, a political think tank in Moscow, said Bush's speech was a ``masterpiece of political rhetoric'' but that he had failed to acknowledge America's own mistakes, particularly in its Middle East policy.

``He (Bush) didn't say a word about that,'' Rogov said. ``America had a hand in creating a monster like bin Laden ... They (the United States) cultivated this monster against the Soviet Union.''

Bush's speech also neglected to mention _ or thank _ America's northern neighbors, many Canadians complained. Some felt Canada was due a public thanks for its quick response to last week's attacks, including its decision to allow U.S.-bound planes to be diverted to its airports after American air space was closed.

Radio call-in shows were buzzing in Toronto after the front page of the Toronto Sun newspaper blared: ``Bush Snubs Us.''

Prime Minister Jean Chretien's office shrugged it off. ``If it is anything, it is an indication that our support goes without saying,'' said Francoise Ducros, a spokeswoman for Chretien.

In Japan, where the speech was broadcast live, a spokesman for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said his nation ``will extend our support for Bush in our maximum capacity.'' A few hours before Bush's speech, Japanese military ships escorted the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk from its base just south of Tokyo.

The carrier was believed to be heading to the Indian Ocean to be ready for a strike.

In Washington, the Organization of American States convened a special meeting of its foreign ministers as a show of solidarity with the United States. Twenty-nine of the 34 OAS member states lost citizens in last week's terrorist attacks.

Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda assailed what he called ``these abominable acts of terrorism'' and promised his government's full cooperation on a variety of fronts in the anti-terrorism struggle.

In China, feelings among the public were mixed.

``He lost more than 6,000 citizens; as a president, he should do something,'' said Vincent Chan, a manager in Hong Kong. ``I support his actions.''

Sales manager Peter To disagreed.

``By going to war, he is only telling his people that Americans are very strong people and he would defend their so-called freedom,'' To said. ``But is this a real solution to the underlying problems? I don't think so.''