A top official of the Council of Europe said Monday that the response to the recent attacks in the United States must be careful and measured, and not be seen as a retaliation of West against East.

The president of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, David Russell-Johnston, says Europe is united in giving the strongest possible support to the United States, following the recent terrorist attacks. However, he says the fight to eradicate terrorism should be conducted carefully and clearly.

In a statement in Strasbourg, he said force may be necessary "to obtain our objectives, but we must ensure" that force is used in an appropriate, proportional and rational manner. He argued that such efforts should be seen for what they are, a fight for justice against crime, and not, "a retaliation of West against East, or rich against poor, or of one religion against another."

"We hope that in the pursuit of terrorists that human rights will not be endangered," Mr. Russell-Johnston said. "All I'm arguing is that one should be very careful that this is not seen as an attack on the Muslims, or an attack on any particular group collectively. It is an attack on particular people, who are doing especially wicked things."

The Council of Europe official said that for the battle against terrorism to succeed, countries must show that they believe a human life has the same value everywhere, whether it's the streets of Manhattan or those of Ramallah, Tel Aviv or Algiers.

He also said an effort must be made to understand the political, social and economic aspects of terrorism. He said people such as Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the U.S. attacks, are not interested in correcting injustice; they merely seek to exploit it to justify their acts of terror.

The 43-nation Council Europe is a human rights and diplomatic organization based in Strasbourg, France. It frequently speaks out against human rights abuses around the world.