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British PM Drums up Support for Anti-Terrorist Coalition - 2001-09-19

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is preparing a diplomatic tour to help build a global coalition against terrorism. He has the backing of a majority of Britons who favor military strikes against the terrorists responsible for last week's attacks in the United States.

British officials say Prime Minister Blair is becoming deeply involved in helping Washington build an international coalition to respond to the terrorist attacks.

Mr. Blair plans to leave London on Wednesday for talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. On Thursday, he will stop in Paris and meet French President Jacques Chirac.

From Paris, Mr. Blair will travel to New York Thursday to see the destruction first-hand, and he will meet families of British victims.

The prime minister then will go to Washington to meet President Bush before leaving for Brussels to attend a meeting of European Union leaders on Friday.

The British defense secretary, Geoff Hoon, says Britain supports a united world front against terrorism. "This coalition that the prime minister is centrally involved in building is vitally important to demonstrate the absolute determination of the international community to root out this appalling scourge on society," he stressed.

A public opinion poll released Tuesday shows two-thirds of Britons favor military strikes against the terrorists responsible for last week's attacks.

A poll (ICM) published in The Guardian newspaper reveals there is less enthusiasm in Britain for an all-out war on terrorism.

It found that 49 percent of the British public would not support military action if it leads to the United States and NATO becoming entangled in a war.