- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

China and Iran led an effort yesterday to push the United States into obtaining United Nations approval for any military activity against Afghanistan for harboring terrorists.
The United States brushed aside such suggestions.
China made such U.N. approval a condition of its help to the United States, as did Iran.
Those nations, as well as Afghanistan itself, also urged the United States to submit evidence of terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden's involvement in attacks last week on the United States.
Over the weekend, Pakistan and Italy also suggested a leading role for the United Nations.
Despite U.S. dismissals of U.N. approval, Bush administration officials said yesterday the United Nations had a role to play in forming a broad coalition against terrorism.
A U.N. resolution "makes clear already that, because of the attacks in East Africa, bin Laden needs to be brought to justice, and the Taliban has to end its practice of harboring terrorist groups," said State Department spokesman Rich-ard Boucher.
He was referring to 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that were blamed on bin Laden followers.
"It is necessary for the U.N. Security Council to play its due role," Chinese President Jiang Zemin told British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a telephone conversation, Chinese news reports said.
Mr. Jiang also insisted that Washington provide "irrefut-able evidence" of Osama bin Laden's involvement before any attacks against the suspected terrorist mastermind.
Afghanistan's Taliban government, which has sheltered bin Laden for years, for the first time yesterday did not rule out bin Laden's involvement.
But it also demanded proof.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the United States would not share its intelligence because it would reveal methods that would be needed to fight terrorists in the future.
The United States, meanwhile, intensified its diplomatic offensive against bin Laden and his terrorist network, al-Qaeda, which is believed responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on Washington and New York.
In the Middle East, a major obstacle to the recruitment of Arab nations into an anti-terrorist coalition was cleared away when Israel and the Palestinians announced a cease-fire intended to halt more than a year of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Following a telephone call yesterday morning from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat announced he had told his followers to stop all shooting, "even in self-defense."
Hours later, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the army to halt attacks and withdraw from Palestinian-ruled territory.
Mr. Powell called the news "an encouraging development" and urged both sides to "take advantage" of it and hold "additional meetings."
"We have also encouraged commanders on both sides to talk to one another and we are looking at the beginning of Security Committee dialogue once again," he told reporters at the State Department.
Mr. Powell spoke after a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Han Song-su, who is also serving as the new president of the U.N. General Assembly.
They discussed, among other things, postponing the U.N. General Assembly session, scheduled for next week, until mid- to late October. Leaders from most U.N. member-states are expected to attend the event in New York, which is still recovering from attacks that demolished the World Trade Center.
"The decision is really in the hands of the United Nations," Mr. Boucher said. "Everybody agrees we should look first and foremost to the wishes of the city."
Mr. Boucher said the United States wants to "work closely" with both the Security Council and General Assembly in a global effort against terrorism. He praised U.N. resolutions last week that condemned the attacks on America.
Mr. Powell had "offered to continue coordinating with the United Nations in various ways" during both his meeting with Mr. Han and telephone conversations in the past several days with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
China's leader, Mr. Jiang, said: "The Chinese people stand side by side with the American and British people as well as the international community on the issue of terrorism," the official Xinhua news agency reported.
But he demanded "irrefutable evidence" of bin Laden's involvement in the attacks and "clear targets, so as to avoid casualties to innocent people" in case of military action.
"Any military action must comply with the objectives and principles of the U.N. Charter as well as widely recognized norms in international law," Mr. Jiang said.
China also asked for U.S. support in its own fight against "terrorism and separatism," referring to Muslim separatists in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and Taiwanese independence activists.
Iran, which shares a border with Afghanistan, also said yesterday it would support a U.N.-led international coalition against terrorism, but warned against a U.S. military strike on Afghanistan.
"To prevent a new catastrophe in Afghanistan, we must keep every action within the framework of the United Nations and under its supervision," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told his Canadian counterpart, John Manley, according to Iran's IRNA news agency.
In Kabul, the Afghan capital, Information Minister Qudrutullah Jamal told Reuters news agency the Taliban would need proof of bin Laden's role in the strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon before it handed him over.
As the administration prepared for a marathon of coalition-building talks with allies and other major powers this week, officials said U.S. requests will become much more specific than the general measures Washington asked them to implement in the aftermath of the attacks on the United States. Those measures, Mr. Boucher said, include information sharing, disrupting financial flows, border closings and preventing transits of groups.
French President Jacques Chirac met with President Bush in the Oval Office last night, where he pledged to work with the United States in its fight against terrorism.But he said: "I don't know whether we should use the word 'war.'"
Foreign leaders flying to Washington this week include Mr. Blair, the foreign ministers of Russia, Italy and Saudi Arabia, as well as three top European Union officials.

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