Bush urges nations to join fight

President outlines steps U.N. must take against terrorists

`Consequences' threatened

He warns regimes that sponsor terror they face defeat

War On Terrorism

November 11, 2001|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

UNITED NATIONS - President Bush challenged the nations of the world yesterday to join forcefully in the war against terrorism, warning that they will be held accountable for how they respond and that those harboring or aiding terrorists will pay a price.

"In this war of terror, each of us must answer for what we have done or what we have left undone," Bush told the annual gathering of world leaders in New York.

"The time for sympathy has now passed; the time for action has now arrived," said Bush as he delivered a set of marching orders based on steps demanded of all United Nations members by the Security Council on Sept. 28.

Nations are required, Bush told the General Assembly, to crack down on terrorist financing, share intelligence, cooperate in law enforcement action, and deny terrorists shelter and weapons.

In addition, "every known terrorist camp must be shut down, its operators apprehended and evidence of their arrest presented to the United Nations," Bush said. But he went further: "We're asking for a comprehensive commitment to this fight. We must unite in opposing all terrorists, not just some of them."

He described the stakes in stark terms: "The only alternative to victory is a nightmare world where every city is a potential killing field."

The speech, Bush's first to the world body, marked the president's most comprehensive appeal to the international community since the terror attacks Sept. 11 on the World Trade Center and Pentagon that prompted him to launch a military, legal, financial and diplomatic war on terrorism.

Delivered the day after the first significant military setback to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which provides sanctuary to the al-Qaida terror network blamed for the attacks, Bush's warning to other regimes that harbor terrorists took on added weight.

In stern tones, Bush underscored his determination not to stop with the defeat of the Taliban and al-Qaida. He said that "every regime that sponsors terror" will pay a price and threatened unspecified "consequences" for countries that support some terrorist groups while condemning others.

Although Bush has repeatedly said he wants to target all terrorist organizations of "global reach" and the states that protect them, administration officials have stressed in recent weeks that the goal for now is to destroy al-Qaida, which is headed by Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden.

The annual General Assembly debate draws world leaders for what amounts to an international convention. Originally scheduled for September, this year's debate was postponed after the terror attacks, which destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center about 40 blocks south of here.

Security at the gathering is always tight. But the event took on a new edginess after the airing a week ago of a videotape in which bin Laden condemned the world body, labeling Secretary-General Kofi Annan a "criminal" and denouncing fellow Arabs who participate in the United Nations.

Bush's speech was his first event in a weekend devoted to strengthening the anti-terror coalition he has fashioned and reminding the world of terrorism's cost. Late yesterday afternoon, he met with Gen. Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, whose cooperation has been crucial to the war effort in neighboring Afghanistan. Today, Bush is to speak at a veterans breakfast and go to the site of the destroyed trade center for a memorial ceremony attended by leaders of 80 nations that lost citizens Sept. 11.

Yesterday's speech indicated that Bush plans to use the United Nations not only as a bully pulpit for the war on terror but also as an organization with the tools to help him accomplish his objectives, much as his father enlisted the United Nations during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf crisis.

But his overwhelming emphasis on fighting terror drew criticism from Iran, which is a quiet ally against the Taliban but also tops the State Department's list of terrorism sponsors.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said, "We should be vigilant to avoid the pitfall of fueling rather than suppressing terrorism through unilateral practices stemming from pride and rage."

Khatami, who is viewed as a moderate leader, added, "Resorting to violence and revenge to counter such acts can hardly be justified under ethical and humane considerations."

While challenging nations to cooperate in the war on terror, Bush stressed that the U.S. military action seeks to minimize civilian casualties and promised a better life for Afghans after the Taliban have been defeated.

"When that regime is gone, the people of Afghanistan will say with the rest of the world, `Good riddance,' " he said.

At the same time, Bush said, world leaders must work to eliminate the conditions that breed terrorism by offering "an alternative of opportunity and hope."

Bush had a double-edged message for the Arab world, in which many oppose the bombing campaign.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.