- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally during the Persian Gulf war, yesterday pledged to help America destroy international terrorist cells as British Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the United States.
Prince Saud Faisal, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, said after a White House meeting with President Bush that his country would contribute "everything that is in our capacity to fight this scourge of terrorism."
The addition of Saudi Arabia comes on the heels of Pakistan's pledge Wednesday to help America find and punish Saudi-exile millionaire Osama bin Laden, whom the administration has termed the "prime suspect" in last week's terrorist attacks. He is now believed to be hiding in Afghanistan.
A pledge of support this week from Indonesia which has the world's largest Muslim population puts the United States on course to building a coalition even larger than the one assembled before the Persian Gulf war in 1991.
Prince Saud said his government was still hopeful that the ruling Taliban, which controls most of Afghanistan and has long aided bin Laden, would accept "the wisdom of handing over criminals to face justice." He said Mr. Bush's "very clear message" during their Oval Office meeting was that countering terrorism "requires a very persistent focus."
But Prince Saud cautioned that his country will play no part in what he said would be actions that would achieve the goals of the terrorists who attacked America. "It should in no way follow the objectives of the terrorists themselves in creating an unbridgeable gap between the Western world and the Islamic world," he said.
As the British leader met Mr. Bush at the White House yesterday, Mr. Blair vowed to support the United States "without hesitation" in its campaign to eradicate terrorism.
"I believe right around the world there is support for firm action now. And I believe the coalition of support for that action is growing. It is strengthening; it is not diminishing. And that is the impression that I have had from many of the conversations that I've had with world leaders in all different parts of the world," Mr. Blair said. "Because this struggle is something that should unite people of all faiths, of all nations, of all democratic, political persuasions."
The U.S.-led international coalition began to gather force after NATO invoked an article in its charter for the first time, declaring the attacks on America an assault on the 19-member alliance. The action obligates America's allies to provide support for any military operation against those responsible for the attacks.
Since then, Mr. Blair has played a prominent role. He lobbied both French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to support a military campaign after Mr. Blair pledged to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the United States. Last night, Mr. Blair was given a seat in the House gallery with first lady Laura Bush as the president delivered a nationally televised address to Congress and the American people.
Before his meeting with Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair spoke to a congregation of 1,500 gathered for a memorial service at St. Thomas Church in Manhattan.
"There are no words that can truly comfort those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones today. Nine days on, there is still the shock and disbelief, there is anger, there is fear, but there is also throughout the world a profound sense of solidarity. There is courage, there is a surging of the human spirit," Mr. Blair said.
Noting that as many as 200 of the victims were British, he said: "Amid the enormity of what has happened to America, nobody will forget that this was the worst terrorist attack on British citizens in my country's history."
Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair at the White House meeting discussed ways to mount a worldwide campaign against terrorism.
"This is a struggle that concerns us all, the whole of the democratic and civilized and free world. And we have to do two things very clearly: We have to bring to account those responsible; and then we have to set about at every single level and every way that we can dismantling the apparatus of terror and eradicating the evil of mass terrorism in our world," Mr. Blair said.
"And I know that America and Britain and all our allies will stand united together in that task. And I give you, on behalf of our country, our solidarity, our sympathy and support," he said.
Mr. Bush said yesterday he realizes some countries, such as China and Russia, will be unwilling to sacrifice relationships with neighbors while other governments will only offer diplomatic or financial support.
"We fully understand that some nations will be comfortable supporting overt activities," he said yesterday before addressing a joint session of Congress. "Some nations will be comfortable supporting covert activities. Some nations will only be comfortable in providing information. Others will only feel comfortable helping on financial matters."
Some world leaders, while offering condolences and words of support, have distanced themselves from what Mr. Bush calls a "war." Mr. Chirac who, like Mr. Blair, toured the devastation in New York on his stop in the United States said after his White House meeting Tuesday: "I don't know whether we should use the word 'war.' But what I can say is that now we are faced with a conflict of a completely new nature."
While Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan yesterday expressed his country's willingness to help the United States, other Chinese leaders have attempted to tie Beijing's support for any U.S. action to a pledge from America to stay out of its business especially China's handling of Taiwan.
Still, Mr. Tang met Vice President Richard B. Cheney, and afterward expressed "the anger that the leadership, the Chinese government and Chinese people have been feeling about the terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York."
Russia, whose leader, Vladimir Putin, has expressed strong support for the U.S. mission to eradicate terrorism, also is asking the Bush administration to give it more leeway in dealing with rebels in Chechnya.

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