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Powell Appeals to World Leaders in Fight Against Terrorism - 2001-09-12


Secretary of State Colin Powell is telephoning leaders around the world to appeal for help in finding those responsible for the New York and Washington attacks, and also to build a broader coalition to combat terrorism.

Amid a day of phone conversations with leaders in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere, Mr. Powell told a news conference here the administration is seeking, not only to find and punish those behind Tuesday's attacks, but to build a global coalition against terrorism and those who support it. "We have to make sure that we go after terrorism and get it by its branch and root," he said. "And so we will hold accountable those countries that provide support, that give host-nation - if you can call it - that support and facilities to these kinds of terrorist groups."

Mr. Powell said he is "sure" that the Taleban leaders in Afghanistan are providing protection and facilities for terrorist figure Osama Bin Laden, but said the administration is not yet prepared to accuse the Saudi exile, or anyone else, in the New York and Washington attacks.

He said the U.S. diplomatic outreach includes a request for help and information from Pakistan, which has had close ties with the Afghan leadership.

Mr. Powell said he expects support in the broader campaign against terrorism from Arab and Islamic leaders, who, he said, have just as much to fear from the phenomenon as those in other countries.

Though there were scattered reports of celebrations of Tuesdays U.S. attacks in the Arab world, the secretary said the overwhelming response from officials in the region has been one of sympathy and outrage. "They are stunned, and find this to be a deplorable act," he said. "I think, they are speaking, not just as leaders, but as leaders of people who although some might rejoice and shout most find this to be deplorable, and something to be condemned."

Mr. Powell's telephone campaign included calls to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to encourage the resumption of direct talks between the parties.

He said terrorism has gone on, regardless of the state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, yet said there should be no further delay in proposed meetings between Mr. Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

"In this time of tragedy, in this time of heightened tensions throughout the world, and especially throughout that region," said Mr. Powell, "let's seize this opportunity to see if we can start this process of meetings, this schedule of meetings so that we can get to the Mitchell peace plan."

Mr. Powell cited the Mideast contacts as evidence the administration is not totally seized by the terrorism crisis. He said, while "acts of war" have been committed against the United States - and it will respond accordingly - it will also pursue its normal business and interests. "We cannot," he said, "be a people who walk around terrified."

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