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US, Britain Invoke Article 51 of UN Charter - 2001-10-08

Britain and the United States are invoking Article 51 of the U.N. Charter to justify the military action in Afghanistan.

In letters to the President of the U.N. Security Council, Britain and the United States say that the military action is self-defense under Article 51 of the world organization's charter.

That article says quote "Nothing in the present charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations." The article also says any such self-defense must be reported to the Security Council.

In his letter, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte says there is clear and compelling information that the Al-Qaeda organization, supported by the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, had a central role in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Mr. Negroponte goes on to say the U.S. inquiry is in its early stages and that quote "We may find that our self defense requires further actions with respect to other organizations and other states."

Both the British and United States letters emphasize that extreme care is being taken during the military actions to minimize the risk to Afghan civilians. The United States letter also says U.S. humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan will continue with supplies of food and medicine.

Later the U.N. Security Council will hold a closed meeting to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and hear oral briefings from the British and U.S. representatives.