- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001

NEW YORK U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday urged governments to avoid violence in the fight against terrorism and to give the United Nations a central role in coordinating comprehensive efforts.

"Let us respond to it in a way that strengthens international peace and security by cementing the ties among nations and not subjecting them to new strains," he told the General Assembly yesterday.

"The organization is the natural forum in which to build such a universal coalition. It alone can give global legitimacy to the long-term struggle against terrorism."

The secretary-general also cautioned governments not to use violence in the effort to root out terrorists, saying that international cooperation is preferable to "nihilism and despair."

"The need for a vigorous response to terrorism, and for a sustained, comprehensive strategy to defeat it, is not in doubt," said Mr. Annan.

"But we also need to give greater urgency to our humanitarian task of relieving the victims of conflict and starvation especially, at this time, those displaced from their homes in Afghanistan."

Mr. Annan made those remarks on what should have been the opening day of the high-profile General Debate, an annual event that routinely draws scores of presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers.

Out of respect for New York City's overburdened police department, the debate has not yet been rescheduled.

However, diplomats have agreed to hold a special session on terrorism starting Monday.

Many of yesterday's speakers mostly diplomats discussing a routine report summarizing the work of the U.N. organization used some of their podium time to condemn the Sept. 11 attacks.

More than 6,500 people from more than 60 nations are dead or missing and presumed dead as a result of the attacks.

In his brief remarks to the assembly yesterday, U.S. Ambassador Cameron Hume, the third-ranking diplomat at the U.S. mission, agreed that the United Nations "must play an international role in marshaling the international community's long-term efforts to defeat this scourge."

However, he added, "these efforts will also require absolute clarity that the international community condemns and rejects any effort to offer false justification for the attack or to protect those who committed it."

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, the highest ranking national speaker yesterday, urged governments to work within the "the coordinating leadership of the United Nations."

"In fighting new dangers, of which international terrorism is no doubt the greatest one, the main objective is to set up a global system to counteract new threats and challenges," he said.

The Russian diplomat noted that national prestige "should be measured not by its military or economic might, but rather by its ability to responsibly fulfill its international obligations."

Moscow has publicly supported Washington's right to retaliate for the attack, in which four passenger jets were hijacked.

Three of the jetliners slammed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

However, the Russian leadership has repeatedly demanded Security Council approval even for non-U.N. action, such as the Kosovo intervention and initial East Timor protection force.

Members of the Security Council, meanwhile, have been holding low-key talks about how to craft a more forceful anti-terrorism resolution than the one they passed unanimously in the aftermath of the bombing.

According to U.N. diplomats, the Americans want to see an anti-terrorism regime explicitly authorized under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which would legitimize the use of force.

Washington, London and Paris are leading the efforts, say council diplomats, who note that the remaining veto-holders, Beijing and Moscow, are expected to weigh in with their own red lines when a draft proposal is introduced, possibly by the end of this week.

"All options are on the table," said a U.S. diplomat, declining to be more specific. The day after the dramatic attacks, the council unanimously passed a resolution condemning them and calling on nations to bring to justice "those responsible for aiding, supporting or harboring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts."

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