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APEC and the U.S.-led war on terrorism

SHANGHAI, China -- Pacific Rim officials have said the problem of terrorism would inevitably dominate discussion at the APEC gathering, especially those involving U.S. President George W. Bush, scheduled to attend the October 20-21 summit that caps the week-long series of meetings.

Below is a summary of the views and reactions of some of the members to the September 11 attacks and the U.S.-led response.

AUSTRALIA - Prime Minister John Howard has given unequivocal support for the United States and said Australia stood ready to send 150 elite Special Air Service troops and two refueling aircraft to join the U.S. and British attacks on Afghanistan, with additional forces available if needed; 295 troops stationed in America were given permission to deploy with U.S. forces if needed.

BRUNEI -- Mosque leaders have urged Muslim followers in the country to practice tolerance and uphold Islam's spirit of unity among humankind regardless of race, religion, color and creed.

Part of the ASEAN forum, Brunei together with Malaysia and Indonesia said at the end of a ministerial meeting, "We strongly condemn all acts of terrorism, in particular the terrorist attacks of September 11 on the U.S."

CANADA -- Canada promised military support to the international coalition and Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Canada would help fight the threat of terrorism "every step of the way." Canada would provide support and communications to the military force. Canada has also frozen C$150,000 ($95,000) in assets believed to be held by groups and individuals connected to Osama bin Laden.

On October 10, a Canadian aircraft technician was shot dead in Kuwait and his Filipina wife was wounded in what appeared to be a pre-planned attack. This was the first deadly attack on Westerners in the region since U.S. raids on Afghanistan began.

CHILE -- Chile's small Muslim population has spoken out against the U.S. attacks, which were followed by a rash of hoax bomb threats in the Chilean capital against U.S. and Israeli targets.

Some 300,000 Chileans claim Palestinian family ties, many of them descendants of Palestinian Christians who emigrated around the start of the 20th century.

CHINA -- China has said it is ready to join the U.S. superpower in fighting terrorism but warned military intervention would only "aggravate terrorism and violence". Bush is to meet Chinese President Jiang Zemin for the first time at the APEC summit.

In China's strongest statement yet of support for the U.S.-led campaign, Jiang told Bush by phone last week that he understood the strikes on Afghanistan were aimed at terrorism and not the Afghan people or Muslims.

Beijing has backed the war on terror but Chinese analysts say it wants support for a campaign against Uighurs fighting for an independent homeland in Xinjiang Province.

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong's government said on September 26 it was drafting laws to freeze funds related to Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, in response to a resolution passed by the United Nations.

INDONESIA -- Megawati Sukarnoputri, president of world's biggest Muslim nation, initially expressed sympathy for the United States and backing for the war on terrorism, offering unspecified help and receiving promises of U.S. financial assistance in return.

But on Sunday Megawati delivered a thinly veiled condemnation of the U.S.-led airstrikes in Afghanistan, saying no government had the right to attack another country or seek to cleanse blood with blood.

She had been trying to tread a thin line between backing a key trade and investment partner and appeasing radicals, as well as many moderate Muslims who condemned the attacks in the United States but were also unhappy with the U.S.-led response.

Jakarta had already urged the coalition to limit the strikes to strategic military targets to minimize civilian casualties.

Indonesia has been hit by a series of anti-U.S. protests, with one radical Muslim group saying it would hunt down Americans and Britons to try to drive them out of the country.

JAPAN -- Japan has pledged logistical support for any U.S. military retaliation with medical and transport troops. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, keen to show Japan is a reliable U.S. ally despite some anti-U.S. demonstrations, has pushed for speedy passage of legislation necessary for such actions.

MALAYSIA -- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on October 12 that U.S.-led air strikes on Afghanistan should be halted.

His comments came before an anti-U.S. demonstration of around 1,000 people outside the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur, the largest protest since the air strikes began, reflecting mounting disapproval in predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

Mahathir, who has backed Washington's war on terrorism but not an attack on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, said such attacks would not help fight terrorism.

NEW ZEALAND -- New Zealand has offered elite Special Air Service troops for any military response to the air attacks on the United States. The troops, trained for deep reconnaissance and counter-terrorist support, regularly exercise with British and other SAS forces.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has said that the U.S.-led attacks on Afghanistan were justified and inevitable.

PERU -- President Alejandro Toledo said he gave his "clear and solid backing" to the strikes on militant training camps in Afghanistan. "Terrorism conspires against democracy," he said. "Peru has fresh experience of that."

Peru's jailed former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos said bin Laden used Lima as his group's Latin American "rest area", according to a video transcript released on September 23.

PHILIPPINES -- The Philippines, a predominately Catholic country, supports the U.S.-led military strikes on Afghanistan. But such support has raised fears of counter-attacks by groups linked to bin Laden.

Muslims make up about five percent of the Philippines' 76 million people but live mostly in the south. In Marawi in the southern Mindanao province, about 5,000 Muslims chanted the name of bin Laden and burned the flags of the United States and Britain in a protest on October 9 against the U.S.-led air attacks on Afghanistan.

Three days later, the U.S. agreed to send military officers to the Philippines to help crack down on Muslim guerrillas linked to bin Laden. The self-styled Abu Sayyaf rebels, who Washington has said are linked to al Qaeda, executed an American tourist they kidnapped in May and are holding a U.S. couple.

RUSSIA -- President Vladimir Putin has pledged support and has backed U.S. plans to build up an international coalition after the attacks but urged thorough investigation first. Defence officials have said Moscow would help with intelligence, but military participation was unlikely.

On October 10, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov reaffirmed Russia's policy of refusing U.S. warplanes airspace to attack Afghanistan, despite Moscow's strong support for the U.S.-led strikes against the Taliban.

The disruption of the status quo in the region's former Soviet republics could spill over into Russia's own open wound - Chechnya, where Russian troops have been fighting Muslim separatists on and off since 1993.

But Russia could also reap dividends by winning more Western sympathy for its attempts to portray the Chechen conflict as part of the struggle against terrorism.

. Tajikistan also announced it is prepared to allow U.S. forces to use its air bases for military actions.

SINGAPORE -- Singapore has backed the U.S.-led bombing of Afghanistan as soldiers stood watch over Changi Airport and other key facilities. "It is a legitimate act of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said on Sunday that his government had uncovered a plot last year by a Middle East terrorist group to recruit Singaporean Muslims into its fold, although the effort was unsuccessful.

SOUTH KOREA -- South Korea, host to 37,000 U.S. troops, has voiced strong support for the United States since immediately after the September 11 suicide attacks.

The Foreign Ministry has donated $1 million worth of relief supplies for Afghan refugees.

South Korea's Defense Ministry is preparing to send some 450 non-combat soldiers - including 120 medical, 170 maritime transport and 150 air transport personnel - to back the U.S.-led campaign.

TAJIKISTAN -- Like another former Soviet colony, Uzbekistan (see below), Tajikistan has announced it is prepared to allow U.S. forces to use its air bases for military actions.

UZBEKISTAN -- Bordering Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has agreed to play a pivotal role in the U.S. military action by letting U.S. forces use one of its air bases for humanitarian purposes "in the first instance". The Uzbek government, with a large Muslim population, sees a U.S. alliance important politically.

VIETNAM -- Vietnam has responded to the U.S.-led attacks on Afghanistan by saying it opposes all terrorist acts and supports efforts aimed at eliminating terrorism.

The communist government has called on parties involved in the Afghan crisis not to spread the conflict and to find a solution to restore peace.

Vietnam's central bank has asked commercial banks to check their books for accounts possibly held by individuals and organizations classified as terrorists by the United States.

Reuters contributed to this report.



 
 
 
 



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