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Europe rallies behind attacks

Tony Blair
Blair: "We know that sometimes, to safeguard peace, we have to fight"  


LONDON, England (CNN) -- European Union leaders have strongly backed missile strikes on Taliban targets in Afghanistan and are offering ongoing support.

There has also been backing from Moscow, while France said its forces would be joining the military campaign.

And the European Union has said it is standing firm with the U.S. and Britian -- the only countries whose forces have so far been used.

Javier Solana, the European Union's international policy chief, said: "All the nations of the EU are contributing in a different manner.

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Chirac addresses the French nation (October 7)

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Blair talks to reporters about the military campaign (October 7)

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EU's International Policy Chief Javier Solana: "This operation is fully legitimate"
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Not every country has the possibility to contribute with the cruise missiles... but all the countries are committed to help according to their capabilities."

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the start of the attacks on Sunday was "a moment of the utmost gravity."

"On the diplomatic and political fronts, in the time I have been prime minister, I cannot recall a situation that has commanded so quickly such a powerful coalition of support -- not just from those countries directly involved in military action but from many others in all parts of the world," he said.

Blair, who is recalling parliament on Monday for its third emergency session since the September 11 terrorist attacks, said military action would be "targeted against places we know to be involved in the al Qaeda network of terror or against the military apparatus of the Taliban.

"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," he said.

The European Union's top executive, Romano Prodi, said: "We are united, and will remain united, in this struggle against those who attack the very foundations of civilisation.

"Our assistance is already being mobilised to provide help to those who may be the innocent victims of this situation and to refugees escaping from the military action.

"This is a moment for unity. The international community stands in solidarity in this struggle, resolved to build a future of peace and development for all peoples on Earth."

French forces will take part in military operations launched by the United States and Britain against targets in Afghanistan on Sunday, said President Jacques Chirac.

In a nationally-televised address, he said the attacks would be conducted over a long period, adding: "Our forces will take part."

France last week agreed to open its airspace to U.S. military aircraft and said its navy would provide logistical support to United States naval groups in the Indian Ocean.

Russia also backed U.S. strikes, saying international terrorism should face justice.

The Kremlin confirmed to CNN that U.S. President George W. Bush telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to inform him of the military action in Afghanistan.

President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he was certain the U.S. was doing everything possible to avoid civilian losses in Afghanistan.

He also told a regular weekly meeting of key cabinet ministers that humanity had "grown up" and terrorist groups could no longer play one world power off against another, Interfax news agency reported.

Putin added, the U.S. had been forced into a response and that the terrorists had "provoked the leadership of the leading countries of the world to such a turn of events."

But this time, he said, "the terrorists miscalculated."

In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said his government gave its "unreserved backing" to action against what he called "terrorist targets" in Afghanistan.

"There is no alternative to this struggle, which we must win and will win," said Schroeder after meeting with his security council.

"It is completely clear that we must proceed together. This is not a fight against the Afghan people. It is a fight against terrorism and those who support terrorism."

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose country holds the presidency of the 15-nation EU, said that Sunday's strikes were not aimed at the Arab or Muslim worlds and stressed the urgency of humanitarian aid for the Afghan people and Afghan refugees.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he supported the attack on Afghanistan, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

"Italy is on the side of the United States and of all those who are committed to the fight against terrorism," Berlusconi was quoted by Reuters.

Italian security forces were put on a heightened state of alert following the start of the U.S. and British attacks on Afghanistan, while the government activated a crisis unit to monitor the situation.

Berlusconi has said that Italy was ready to provide material help for the United States in any military action.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Anzar said the attack was justified self-defence.

He reiterated Spain's offer to put all means necessary at the disposal of the military coalition, including Spanish bases and personnel.

But Gaspar Llamazares, leader of Spain's Communist-led opposition coalition, said the attack was "a dirty war."

"You cannot respond to terrorism with war and cause new innocent victims," he added.

Turkey also gave its full support to the U.S. and British air strikes.

"Turkey supports the United States as a responsible ally and friend in its struggle against terrorism," said Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.

He said Turkey, NATO's only member with a predominately Muslim population, had stepped up security at home and abroad.

Cyprus also offered backing. Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides reiterated in a television address his government's support for the United States and to "stress that this war is not against Islam but only against terrorism."

Cassoulides's government, which holds power in a part of the divided island populated predominantly by Orthodox Christians, had earlier placed its airports at the disposal of the U.S. military for its anti-terrorist strikes.





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