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Europe Leaders Pledge Support After Terror Attacks - 2001-09-11

European leaders have expressed horror and pledged support for the United States in the wake of terror attacks in New York and near Washington.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose nation holds the European Union presidency, said he is shocked by the attacks and he condemned the incidents. He comments came in a statement issued while on an official visit to Ukraine.

The head of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, expressed his sympathy to President Bush and to relatives of the victims. He said Europeans stand together with the United States.

European Commission external relations chief Chris Patten said Europe's prayers and deepest sympathy go out to the United States. He said everyone is watching events in the United States with absolute horror.

In Germany, Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher expressed shock and horror and the lower house of German parliament suspended debate on the national budget in a show of sympathy.

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin also said he was horrified and French President Jacque Chirac said the French people are behind the Americans. Mr. Chirac cut short a visit to Brittany and headed back to Paris.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Britain would provide whatever help it could to catch the perpetrators, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed shock.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin conveyed his deep condolences to the American people.

Meanwhile, security is being tightened around U.S. facilities in Europe.

In Greece, police reportedly boosted security at the U.S. embassy and other diplomatic facilities, as well as U.S. businesses and schools. In Italy, airports were reported on maximum security alert and security at NATO bases was stepped up. In Germany, the aviation authority halted plane departures to the United States.

In another indication of concern, gold prices surged in Europe and investors scrambled for safety in what they considered to be solid assets. Market analysts in London reported panic buying of metals, gold, and oil.