The attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington have drawn condemnation and condolences from across Southeast Asia. Security has also been tightened around U.S. embassies and some have been closed indefinitely.
The attacks in the United States occurred during the evening hours in this part of the world. As a result, some people had gone to bed. Others, however, stayed up until the early morning hours, watching the drama unfold on their televisions.
Reaction across the region was swift.
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri sent condolences and expressed great shock over what was termed the brutal and indiscriminate attacks.
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo said nothing can describe the shock and horror in the face of what she called the unimaginable acts of terror. She said all mankind is diminished by the extreme evil seen and the mindless violence exceeds the most extreme fears about organized terrorism.
Australia's Prime Minister John Howard said the terrorist attacks were not just on the United States, but on all civilized countries. And he said it is time for a calm but lethal response. "Words aren't very adequate, but they are a sign that we feel for our American friends, that we will stand by them," he said. "We will help them. We will support actions they take to properly retaliate, in relation to these acts of bastardry [sic] (dastardly acts) against their citizens and against what they stand for."
Mr. Howard was on a trip to the United States but cut short his visit because of the attacks.
Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, held an emergency cabinet meeting to review security in the kingdom. The Thai official condemned the attacks and sought to ease fears among his countrymen.
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad expressed sadness over the attacks but he cautioned against seeking revenge, saying retaliation will only lead to more deaths. In Kuala Lumpur, the world's tallest building, the Petronas Twin Towers, was evacuated Wednesday morning after a bomb threat.
Economists, meanwhile, are voicing concerns over the possible economic effects of the attacks in a region, which is still recovering from the economic crisis four years ago.
Southeast Asian economy ministers meeting in Vietnam sent condolences and said the attacks underline the need for stronger international cooperation in combating terrorism. The ministers said it was natural for the shock of the attacks to affect stock markets and currency exchange rates, but said they hope they will not have a long-term effect.
Security was tight around U.S. installations across the region. U.S. Embassies were closed in several countries, including Australia, Indonesia and Thailand, but remained open in others.