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US Briefs NATO on Terror War - 2001-09-20


A top U.S. diplomat has briefed NATO allies about the investigation into last week's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington but says the United States is not asking its allies for assistance at this time. NATO's secretary-general says all of the allies are determined to help the United States stamp out terrorism.

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Richard Armitage says he has no specific requests to make of the alliance right now. His purpose, he says, was to report to NATO on the ongoing investigation into the attacks and brief the alliance on the Bush Administration's efforts to forge a coalition to fight international terrorism. "I came here to share information, to talk about the grand coalition that President Bush is trying to put together, and to make the point, very dramatically and graphically, that this is a global war on terrorism. It doesn't just stop in Afghanistan," he said.

Afghanistan has been singled out by U.S. officials because they say it is harboring Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi-born militant whom U.S. officials say is the prime suspect in last week's attacks.

But NATO officials say no decision has been made about the role the alliance could play in any military operation.

Mr. Armitage says each of the allies can contribute to the fight against terrorism, whether it is by sharing intelligence, or providing diplomatic, or economic support, to U.S. moves against suspected terrorists.

NATO Secretary-General George Robertson says the allies re-stated their readiness Thursday to assist the United States in its battle against international terrorists. "All of NATO and the individual allies are determined to collectively contribute, in cooperation with other members of the international community, to this fight, maybe long fight, and we hope successful fight, against terrorism," he said.

Mr. Armitage thanked NATO for invoking a mutual defense clause in its founding treaty after the attacks in New York and Washington. That clause specifies that an attack on one ally should be considered as an attack on all, if it is found to have originated abroad.

The U.S. diplomat says citizens of all but three of the 19 NATO allies perished in last week's attacks.

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