October 7, 2001
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Europe rallies behind US military action

European leaders on Sunday rallied around United States, coming out with vocal statements of support for the US-led strikes

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in a national television address, said the start of the attacks was 'a moment of the utmost gravity'.

Blair said, "The military action would be targeted against places we know to be involved in the Al Qaida network of terror or against the military apparatus of the Taleban."

"We have set the objectives to eradicate Osama bin Laden's network of terror and to take action against the Taleban regime that is sponsoring him," he said. He added, "The international coalition's efforts would not rest until its objectives were met in full."

He said the US last Wednesday requested the use of a number of British military assets.

He said the US had been granted use of facilities at Diego Garcia -- a British territory in the Indian Ocean, which has extensive military facilities, as also the use of reconnaissance and other aircraft, and missile-firing submarines.

Blair said, "While taking action had dangers, the dangers of inaction are far, far greater -- the threat of further such outrages, the threat to our economies, the threat to the stability of the world."

Blair also said, "The military action has been put together mindful of our determination to do all we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties."

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in a statement the German government gave its 'unreserved backing' to the US action against what he called 'terrorist targets' in Afghanistan.

French forces will take part in military operations launched by the United States and Britain against targets in Afghanistan on Sunday, President Jacques Chirac said.

Chirac, in a nationally-televised address, said "The attacks would be conducted over a long period. Our forces will take part."

"The fight against terrorism is a fight that is complex, difficult and that has to be played on several fronts. It is not just a military fight ... for this this action facing us, the French are united ... We are all united," he said.

France last week agreed to open its airspace to US military aircraft and said its navy would provide logistical support to United States naval groups in the Indian Ocean.

Russia backed US strikes against Afghanistan on Sunday, saying that international terrorism should face justice.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement, read on ORT television, said, "Taleban-ruled Afghanistan has become an international centre of terrorism and extremism and a safe haven for terrorists responsible for crimes in many countries."

"It is time for decisive action with this evil," the statement said.

"Terrorists wherever they are -- in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Middle East or the Balkans -- should know that they will be taken to justice."

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