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Britain Official: Afghan War Just - 2001-11-12

Britain's Foreign Secretary says the present military campaign in Afghanistan is just and appropriate. In an address to the General Assembly, Jack Straw also called for countries in the West to do more to help the poorest nations. Mr. Straw said he recognized certain countries have been critical of the military campaign in Afghanistan. But he insisted the action is justified.

He pointed out the U.N. Charter provides for countries to defend themselves from terrorism. "Our first duty to our citizens and to each other is to defend ourselves against that threat," he says. "When the nations of the world agreed the United Nations charter, they recognized the right of self-defense in Article 51. It is an exercise of this right that the military coalition is now engaged in action against Al-Qaeda and the Taleban regime, which harbors them."

Mr. Straw also made clear that the people of Afghanistan would not be abandoned once the military action is over. But he pointed out the role of a future government must be decided by the people. "There is consensus in the Security Council as a whole and among Aghanistan's neighbors that there should be a broad-based government in Kabul, reflecting Afghanistan's rich ethnic diversity. And the future of Afghanistan must be put into the hands of the Afghan people," says Mr. Straw.

The Foreign Secretary said the West must do more in Africa to help the economic development of some of the world's poorest countries. He said significant progress has been made in the area of economic expansion. But he said the developed world must, in his words, dismantle the barriers to dignity and opportunity, not just those of free trade.