At United Nations, Bush says all nations are targets
UNITED NATIONS – President Bush, in a warning to world leaders, said Saturday all nations are possible targets of terrorism and must join with the United States in a campaign to prevent more attacks. “Each of us must answer for what we have done or what we have left undone,” he said.
In his first appearance before the General Assembly, Bush outlined specific tasks for member nations: crack down on financing for terrorists, deny them sanctuary, close their camps and seize the operators. “These obligations are urgent and they are binding on every nation with a place in this chamber,” the president said.
“Every nation has a stake in this cause,” Bush said. “As we meet, the terrorists are planning more murder, perhaps in my country – or perhaps in yours.” He warned that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network would use nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as soon as they could. “No hint of conscience would prevent it,” Bush said.
He spoke before a gathering of 40 world leaders and 100 foreign ministers a few miles from the site of the World Trade Center suicide attacks on Sept. 11. A long round of applause filled the cavernous hall at the conclusion of his remarks.
Bush came to the world body in a bid to strengthen his fragile anti-terrorism coalition. A gathering number of foreign leaders has expressed concern in recent days about the U.S.-led military action against bin Laden, his network and the Taliban regime.
He met late in the day with one of those leaders, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, a key ally who has given the United States staging areas for the war against Afghanistan. Threatened by internal anti-U.S. sentiments, Musharraf has urged Bush to keep the military action short.
Still, the Pakistani sought a series incentives from Bush, including economic aid and the release of F-16 fighters sold to Pakistan in the 1980s but withheld after the country developed nuclear weapons. He did not get the planes, U.S. officials said, but Bush added new money to an aid package, bringing the total to $1 billion.
Bush lifted economic sanctions against Pakistan shortly after the attacks – just as Musharraf granted the U.S. military access to four air bases in his country.
The pair agreed that northern alliance forces fighting the Tablian regime in Afghanistan need to stay out of the capital city of Kabul, part of an effort to maintain stability in a country deeply divided among tribes.
Musharraf said he feared Afghanistan would see “the same atrocities committed’ as after the Soviets left Afghanistan more than a decade ago.
A tight security net was cast over the United Nations after bin Laden accused it of siding with the United States.
Terrorism dominated the day, but was not the only issue.
When Bush spoke of the Middle East, heads swiveled as delegates sought out the Israeli and Palestinian delegations. “We are working toward the day when two states – Israel and Palestine – live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders,” the president said.
The Israeli delegation, observing the Jewish Sabbath, was not at its table. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who Bush has refused to meet in a sign of U.S. frustration with Palestinian peace efforts, was in the hall and said later that the president’s speech was “important, positive, constructive.”
Bush told the General Assembly that, “For every regime that sponsors terror, there is a price to be paid, and it will be paid. The allies of terror are equally guilty of murder and equally accountable to justice.”
Bush said some nations want to play a part in the war against terror but claim they lack the means to enforce their laws and control their borders. “We stand ready to help,” the president said.
“Some governments still turn a blind eye to the terrorists, hoping the threat will pass them by,” he said. “They are mistaken.
“And some governments, while pledging to uphold the principles of the U.N., have cast their lot with the terrorists,” Bush said. “They support them and harbor them and they will find that their welcome guests are parasites that will weaken them and eventually consume them.”
He did not single out any nations but aides said he was referring to countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Iran when he warned against inaction.
The harsh rhetoric was certain to comfort conservative Republicans and some advisers to Bush pushing for wider military action against states supporting terrorism, particularly Iraq.
The speech opened two days of U.N. diplomacy, with Bush meeting leaders of Croatia, Madagascar, Uganda and Kenya.
On Sunday, Bush had several other meetings before attending an afternoon ceremony marking the two-month anniversary of the attacks.