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Britain, France Reaffirm Pledge to Support US - 2001-09-20

French and British leaders say they would join the United States in striking back against terrorist as long as the response is appropriate and effective.

President Jacques Chirac told reporters that France and Britain would be involved in any U.S. response to last week's attacks in New York and Washington assuming it had been first discussed among European allies and that the reprisal is, in is words, "appropriate and effective."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered similar backing, saying that it is clear that action must be taken against those responsible for the terrorism.

The remarks by the two European leaders follow a whirlwind visit by Mr. Chirac to Washington and New York and just before Mr. Blair's own trip to the United States.

While sympathizing with America's plight, European leaders have been cautious in their statements about how the international community should respond to last week's attacks. During his U.S. visit, for example, Mr. Chirac declined to use the term war in discussing the fight against terrorism, and said only that French military participation was conceivable. And French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has said any French military commitment to U.S. reprisals must first be discussed by the country's parliament.

Nonetheless, European Union members are looking for new ways to jointly fight against terrorism within their borders. European justice and interior ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss the matter, and EU heads of government will hold a summit in Brussels on Friday.