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Czech PM: No Excuse for Terrorism - 2002-04-02

The prime minister of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, says Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel are no different than the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon last September in the United States. The prime minister also says negotiating with such terrorists is nonsense.

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman told a gathering of Chicago-area business leaders Tuesday that he values deeds more than he does words, and that it is especially true when it comes to fighting terrorism. He says Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli citizens are no different than the attacks against the Pentagon or the World Trade Center's twin towers, which he called "the twins," yet there has been no international military effort to root out the source of the attacks in Israel.

"There are no bad terrorists and no good terrorists," he said. "There are only terrorists. Suicide assassination against civic victims in pizzerias, discotheques or elsewhere are the same as the attack on the twins [World Trade Center twin towers]."

Mr. Zeman realizes there are people who want to reopen peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but he expresses no confidence such talks would be worthwhile. "The Czech historical experience says any negotiation with terrorists is nonsense," he explained. "There is only one possible solution: to fight against terrorism."

Mr. Zeman told his audience the Czech Republic has contributed a small number of troops, as well as a military plane and a field hospital to the United States military effort against terrorists. He says it is not a big contribution, but is worth more than what he called words of solidarity.

Other world leaders are not so quick to group Palestinian suicide bombers with the September 11 terrorists. Delegates to a conference of Islamic countries meeting this week in Malaysia rejected a proposal to define terrorism as any attack against civilians, including Palestinian suicide bombings. Most leaders at the conference felt Muslim countries should support the Palestinian cause.

Also this week, President Bush says Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's past history as a peace negotiator means the Palestinian leader cannot be treated the same as people belonging to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The prime minster's comments came at the end of a two-day visit to Chicago, during which Mr. Zeman met with area cultural and business leaders. Chicago has one of the world's largest Czech populations outside Europe.