Bush: Strikes supported by 'will of the world'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Although only U.S. and British war planes carried out the strikes in Afghanistan on Sunday, President Bush said America is "supported by the collective will of the world" in the war against terrorism.
"Close friends, including Canada, Australia, Germany and France, have pledged forces as the operation unfolds," Bush said from the White House shortly after the strikes.
He also noted that "more than 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and across Asia have granted air transit or landing rights. Many more have shared intelligence."
"Every nation has a choice to make," Bush continued. "In this conflict, there is no neutral ground."
He also warned that if any nation chooses to sponsor terrorists, "They have become outlaws and murderers themselves. And will take that lonely path at their own peril."
Bush reportedly shared word of the impending attack with many world leaders. The Kremlin confirmed to CNN that the U.S. president phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin before the air strikes began.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also received a call from Bush before attacks commenced. Schroeder later issued a statement saying his country "without reservation" backed the U.S.-led strikes.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair credited Bush with building "a powerful coalition of support" quickly after the September 11 attacks in the United States.
The prime minister, speaking from his Downing Street office shortly after the strikes in Afghanistan, said the coalition had "strengthened, not weakened in the 26 days since the atrocity occurred."
"We have set the objectives to eradicate Osama bin Laden's network of terror and to take action against the Taliban regime that is sponsoring him," the prime minister said.
British missile-firing submarines participated in Sunday's strikes, Blair said. He also said he has also authorized the use of the military base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, plus the use of reconnaissance and other aircraft. British "air assets will be available for use in the coming days," Blair said.
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