- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

'Despicable' acts

The Israeli and Egyptian ambassadors condemned yesterday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, as many foreign embassies shut down along with the rest of the city.

Israeli Ambassador David Ivry, whose country has been under assault by suicide bombers, called the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon "terrible, disgusting, despicable terrorist acts."

The Israeli people "are with you at this terrible time," he said.

Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy expressed his "deep condolences" to the victims and their families.

"My heart goes out to every one of them," he said. "It's hard to imagine the loss of life. We are in a daze here. It is a horrible tragedy."

Mr. Fahmy said he had been in touch with his foreign ministry in Cairo to provide details on the attacks. He was instructed to express Egypt's sympathy to U.S. officials.

Mr. Fahmy said he did not want to speculate on who was responsible, saying, "I'm not going to get into that." But he warned against blaming Arabs without proof, recalling that Arabs were falsely accused of the Oklahoma City bombing shortly after the 1995 attack by American terrorists.

Donald Tsang, Hong Kong's chief secretary for administration, and several members of his staff were in New York yesterday.

"Words can hardly describe my shock at today's events," he said. "For my part, and I believe I speak for all the people of Hong Kong, I am deeply saddened and aggrieved at such a terrible loss of life.

"We express our profound sympathy for the American people."

He said his office was "in a state of emergency in dealing with this devastating tragedy."

Lithuanian President Vladas Adamkus, who is visiting Washington, sent President Bush a letter yesterday to express Lithuania's shock at the attacks.

"The sympathies and solidarity of the Lithuanian people are with the victims and their families," he wrote.

Embassies throughout Washington shut down after the attack on the Pentagon or put their missions on high alert.

Israeli Embassy spokesman Mark Regev said the mission was operating with a limited staff after shutting for about three hours.

"There was a period of two to three hours when we were closed because of fear there could be more specific attacks," he said.

U.S. Secret Service officers told diplomats at the Mexican Embassy, on Pennsylvania Avenue three blocks from the White House, to close.

The Canadian Embassy, on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Capitol, increased security but remained open.

The British Embassy was staffed only by essential personnel, and the French Embassy sent home its American employees.

The deputy prime minister of Kazakhstan, Vladimir Shkolnik, canceled a book-signing party that was scheduled yesterday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Malaysian Embassy canceled a National Day celebration planned for tonight.

Diplomatic alert

U.S. embassies around he world went on alert yesterday after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

A 100-member police SWAT team, including snipers, surrounded the embassy in Thailand, the second largest U.S. Embassy in the world after the one in Egypt.

"Thailand is ready to help the United States as much as we can, particularly with regard to the security of its embassy," Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai told reporters.

The embassy in Tunisia, located in downtown Tunis, held a crisis meeting to discuss additional security measures. Bangladesh also provided more protection around the embassy in Dahka.

A dozen soldiers wielding batons guarded the entrance to the embassy in China, and armed soldiers ringed the mission in India.

The embassy in Bosnia closed for the week, while the embassy in Japan announced it was "closed until further notice."

U.S. diplomats in Finland and France urged Americans to maintain a low profile.

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