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Chirac:  Bin Laden Responsible For US Attacks - 2001-10-04


The leader of another U.S. ally, French President Jacques Chirac, Thursday expressed his belief that Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden is responsible for the recent terrorist attacks in the United States. Mr. Chirac's comments came one day after similar remarks by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Speaking at a forum on European integration in Montpellier, Mr. Chirac said Mr. bin Laden and his alleged terrorist accomplices must pay for what he called "odious crimes." The United Sates says Mr. bin Laden is the mastermind of the September 11 strikes.

President Chirac also said France will play a role in the American response to the attacks. He said France has put its ports at the disposal of the U.S. military, in addition to opening French airspace to American military overflights, and cooperating with the U.S. Navy in the Indian Ocean.

But Mr. Chirac did not elaborate on exactly how France will collaborate in America's war against terrorism.

During a parliamentary debate Wednesday, some French politicians said they oppose French participation in any long-term military operations.

On Wednesday, too, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin outlined a series of security measures to prevent terrorism from striking France. Police recently uncovered an elaborate plot to blow up the American Embassy in Paris. According to French news reports, the suspected head of the plot is allegedly linked to Mr. bin Laden's al-Qaida organization.

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