Conferences, concerts, sports matches canceled as world mourns

Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) -- Church bells pealed, flags stood at half-staff, and conferences, concerts and sports matches were canceled Wednesday as countries contemplated a world utterly changed by the deadly terrorist attacks on the United States.

Even nations that have been at odds with the United States denounced the attacks.

North Korea called the attacks "very regretful and tragic," adding that it "is opposed to all forms of terrorism." The U.S. State Department lists North Korea among seven national "sponsors of terrorism."

Libya, Syria, Sudan and Iran -- all of which are accused by the United States of sponsoring terrorism -- also condemned the attacks.

"Irrespective of the conflict with America it is a human duty to show sympathy with the American people, and be with them at these horrifying and awesome events which are bound to awaken human conscience," Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said.

However, an Iraqi state-run newspaper described the attacks as due punishment. "Now, America is gaining the fruits of its worldwide crime," al-Iraq newspaper said Wednesday.

In the hours after the attack, Iraqi television played a patriotic song that began "Down with America!" as it showed the towers collapsing.

Radical groups behind attacks on Israeli civilians were at pains to distance themselves from the devastating events in New York and Washington. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine all denied responsibility.

Addressing his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II told Americans that "those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say."

Offers of solidarity came from around the world.

"In the darkest hours of European history, America stood close with us," European Commission President Romano Prodi said, referring to U.S. intervention during the two World Wars. "Today we stand close by America."

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke Wednesday with President Bush and said he had consulted leaders in Russia, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union. "We all agreed that this attacks was an attack not only on America, but on the free and democratic world," he said.

"It demands our complete and united condemnation, our determination to bring those responsible to justice, and our full support for the American people at this time of trial."

In Kosovo's capital of Pristina, tens of thousands of people gathered for a demonstration commemorating the victims. Many waved American flags or held placards saying, "United States, We are With You."

Queen Elizabeth II planned a special Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Thursday to honor the victims of the attacks. A military band will play the American national anthem, which will be followed by two minutes of silence.

Stock exchanges, including those in London and Madrid, suspended trading for a minute at 8:45 a.m. EDT -- 24 hours after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

Mourning bells rang out in Austria and the Czech Republic. Portugal declared two days of mourning.

At the American Embassy in Berlin, hundreds of bouquets of flowers lay against a temporary security cordon and burning candles dotted the sidewalk. A banner hung nearby, calling for a measured U.S. response: "No revenge please, No World War 3."

Leon Linnartz, 51, a professor of political science, said Berliners have special solidarity with Americans. "We have not forgotten" U.S. support during the city's years under Communism, Linnartz said.

German-based media giant Bertelsmann announced it is contributing $2 million to help the families of the New York firefighters and police officers killed in the attacks.

In Calcutta, India, the Missionaries of Charity, an order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa, offered special prayers for the dead.

In Abidjan, the capital of the West African nation of Ivory Coast, Muslim stall keepers offered condolences to passing Americans.

In Geneva, European soccer's governing body UEFA postponed its matches for this week -- the first time the soccer body had postponed all its matches en masse.

"The scale of this tragedy and the pain and sorrow which it brings should cause us all to reflect," Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner in a statement.

Companies at the Frankfurt International Auto Show canceled or scaled back press events Wednesday, though the show remained open.

Pop star Sting canceled a concert scheduled for Tuesday night near Florence, Italy.