Powell seeks coordinated international response to attacks

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Associated Press WriterWASHINGTON (AP) -- Starting before dawn Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned world leaders in search of support for a coordinated response to the "assault against the civilized world" waged by terrorists at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Powell, who cut short a trip to South America after Tuesday's attacks, phoned the leaders of the United Nations, NATO and the European Union. He planned calls later in the day to Middle East leaders.

"The world must respond as the U.S. plans to respond," Powell told NBC's "Today" show in one of five morning television interviews he conducted.

President Bush, who was awake at around 6 a.m. and in the Oval Office meeting with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice by 7 a.m., spoke by telephone with Prime Ministers Tony Blair of Britain and Jean Chretien of Canada.

"They all expressed their resolve to stand strong against terrorism," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, adding that Bush especially thanked Chretien for Canada's help in diverting and landing American planes amid Tuesday's chaos.

The United States has received an offer from Israel of 170 experts in dealing with terrorism, including doctors and search-and-rescue personnel. All are ready to fly from Israel on short notice aboard two aircraft but the United States had not yet responded to the offer, said Israeli Embassy spokesman Mark Regev.

Powell said it was imperative that all countries that believe in democracy take action.

Speaking to Fox News, Powell expressed shock that some Palestinians celebrated the attacks but said he was pleased by the responses of countries such as Russia and China.

A senior administration official said Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Bush a letter described as "a powerfully friendly communication" that was interpreted as tacit approval of any retaliatory action Bush might take.

Putin's response did not come as a surprise. The United States and Russia have worked closely on terrorism for some time.

Powell is a veteran of coalition building in response to international crises. He played a role in developing a united front against Iraq after Iraqi forces invaded and occupied Kuwait in 1990.

Powell predicted U.S. intelligence will be able to identify the perpetrators quickly.

"Evidence will accumulate in the next several days which will point us in the direction as to who is responsible," he told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Powell said a single assault on those responsible will not resolve the problem.

"It's not just one organization; it is a network of organizations. Terrorism has been around for a long time. It's going to take a long time to root it out."

He told CNN that political, diplomatic, and intelligence assets must be brought to bear on the situation.

Administration officials said Osama bin Laden, the Afghanistan-based Islamic militant, is a prime suspect. Powell declined to speculate on who might be responsible.

Powell said about 25 percent of U.S. diplomatic missions were closed Wednesday in response to the attack. He said no direct threat had been received against any mission. All will reopen as soon as possible, he said.

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