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UN Begins Terrorism Debate - 2001-10-01

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan says a truly united United Nations is the only effective way to defeat terrorism.

Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly Monday at the start of a week-long debate on terrorism, Mr. Annan said the United Nations is uniquely positioned to fight international terrorism. He said the shock of the attacks on September 11 has united the world and that unity must be maintained.

"If we are to prevent such crimes from being committed again, we must stay united as we seek to eliminate terrorism," the secretary general told the assembly. "In this struggle, there is simply no alternative to international cooperation. Terrorism will be defeated if the international community summons the will to united in a broad coalition, or it will not be defeated at all."

Mr. Annan praised the action of the U.N. Security Council Friday night. The Council passed a resolution requiring all nations to cut off funding sources for terrorists and take other cooperative action.

The General Assembly debate will give each of the 189 members of the United Nations a chance to express their official positions on terrorism. So far, more than 140 nations are on the speakers' list.

One issue that could be contentious during the week-long session is the question of how to define terrorism. There are instances, many nations say, when armed resistance by non-governmental groups is justified.

However, Secretary General Annan says there is a need for "moral clarity" in the debate and there can be no acceptance of those who "justify the deliberate taking of innocent civilian life."