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U.N.: Global fight must address root causes of terrorism

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2001

UNITED NATIONS -- At a U.N. General Assembly session delayed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, world leaders took to the podium one by one Saturday and declared that the war on terrorism must be a global fight that also addresses root causes ranging from poverty to political repression.

The grand General Assembly hall was filled with representatives of countries that have been the targets of terrorism and countries accused by the United States of sponsoring terrorism, including Iran, Iraq and Syria, recently elected to the powerful Security Council.

From countries large and small, rich and poor, there was universal recognition that after Sept. 11 no nation is safe from terrorism, and no nation can fight it alone.

''Terrorism taught us the abiding lesson that we do indeed belong to a global village,'' said South African President Thabo Mbeki. ''None within this village will be safe unless all the villagers act together to secure and guarantee that safety.''

Poignantly noting that only a few miles away ''thousands still lie in a tomb of rubble'' that was once the World Trade Center, President Bush said in a hard-hitting speech that ''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 yearlong session opened a day late on Sept. 12. The ''general debate'' 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, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who also spoke on behalf of the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, said terrorism is ''concealed like time-bombs in our midst.''

''We are all involved in an unconventional war for which we are not yet prepared,'' he said.

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.

But Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee urged the international community to ''reject self-serving arguments seeking to classify terrorism according to its root causes.''

''Those that advance these arguments should explain what the root causes of the brutal acts of Sept. 11 were,'' 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 on Sept. 10 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 ''if we bring real hope to the billions now trapped in poverty, conflict and disease.''

Stressing the links between terrorism, crime and drug abuse, Brazil's President Fernando Henrique Cardoso called for ''a worldwide public awareness campaign'' on how drugs help finance terrorism.

''If we are to stem the flow of resources to the terrorist networks spreading death and destruction, it is crucial that drug use in our societies be drastically curtailed,'' he said.

In conference rooms throughout U.N. headquarters Saturday, high-level diplomats held bilateral meetings that will likely be of interest to the United States and its anti-terrorism campaign.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met privately with his Iraqi counterpart, Naji Sabri. Russia has been a key ally here for Iraq, making it difficult for the United States and Britain to curtail oil smuggling by Saddam Hussein's nation and deliver more humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people.

Musharraf held talks with Iran's Khatami. Both countries border Afghanistan but have supported different factions.

Later, Musharraf held a joint news conference with Bush, who said Pakistan and the United States share ''an urgent mission'' to defeat terrorism and announced $1 billion in economic help for Pakistan.

Musharraf called it ''the start of a dawn of a new era of a relationship between Pakistan and the United States.''

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