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UN Supportive of Attacks Against Afghanistan - 2001-10-09


Reaction to the British and U.S. air strikes against Afghanistan has been generally supportive at the United Nations, although there is concern about civilian casualties. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan set the tone by saying that the military action against Afghanistan appears to be in the context of the self-defense provisions of the United Nations charter.

Article 51 of the U.N. charter allows nations that are victims of an armed attack to take individual or collective action in self-defense.

Russia's ambassador Sergey Lavrov says the main concern he has at the moment is the avoidance of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. "I think a lot depends on how the [military] operation is handled and whether there would be civilian casualties," he said. "This is the only concern and my President [Putin] clearly stated that he is satisfied with the assurances given to him by President Bush that every measure will be taken not to allow civilian casualties to occur."

India's ambassador, Kamalesh Sharma said his nation fully supports the military action in Afghanistan. "We have been, from the very beginning, supportive of this action and the need for it and we will stay on that course," he said.

Mr. Sharma indicated that most members of the United Nations consider terrorism a very serious threat. The Indian ambassador noted that 167 nations spoke about terrorism last week in the U.N. General Assembly, the largest number of speakers ever on any single subject.

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