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Powell Discusses War on Terrorism with British, French Officials - 2001-12-12

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, nearing the end of a nine-nation tour, stopped in France and England Tuesday to talk with French and British leaders about the next phase in the Afghan campaign: rebuilding the country.

While in England, Mr. Powell joined British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a ceremony in honor of the victims of the September 11 attacks.

Shortly before, Mr. Powell was in Paris, meeting with French President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.

Mr. Powell's visit to Paris and London coincided with rising speculation in Europe that Washington will extend its campaign against terrorism to suspected terrorist targets in countries like Somalia or Iraq.

On Monday, Britain's top military officer, Admiral Michael Boyce, warned the United Kingdom may end up in military operations that might contradict national policy. He said Britain may have to decide whether to commit its forces to Afghanistan, or to a broader campaign against terrorism.

But in Paris, Mr. Powell refused to speculate about what the next step in the war against terrorism might be. "The president has made no decision as to what actions we should take in the next phase of the campaign against terrorism, nor has he received any recommendations as to what the next step should be and that specifically includes Iraq." European governments are also concerned about the possible use of American military tribunals to judge suspected terrorists. Standing next to Mr. Powell, Mr. Vedrine reiterated France's opposition to what he termed exceptional tribunals.

The U.S. secretary, for his part, chose to emphasize areas of agreement between Washington and its two European allies. He used the stops in Paris and London to praise France and Britain for their willingness to participate in a multinational security force to restore stability to Afghanistan.