In an unprecedented action, the 19-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Wednesday invoked Article 5 of its founding treaty. The article states that an attack initiated by a non-NATO country on one alliance member is considered an attack on all members, and could warrant military retaliation.
NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said it was at the discretion of the United States to decide upon desired reaction, and then approach NATO for help.
“The alliance will, in accordance with its rules and in accordance with international law, take whatever action will be appropriate in the circumstances to assist,” Lord Robertson said.
NATO and Russia are working together in an uncharacteristically close manner in the face of the terrorist attacks.Following a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council issued a statement saying, “NATO and Russia call on the entire international community to unite in the struggle against terrorism.”
A senior NATO official said they expect the Ukraine to issue a similar statement on Friday.
France’s President Jacques Chirac pledged support to the United States. “France, I would like to repeat, will be totally supportive,” said Chirac. “We will show solidarity.”
In Britain, Home Secretary Jack Straw announced that forces were already on alert for possible retaliatory action.
Some of the European Union’s smaller countries have also come forward to pledge support, regardless of whether or not they are members of the NATO alliance. Rumanian President Ion Iliescu said, “It is our duty in the present circumstances to act as a fully fledged member of NATO, with all the obligations that entails.”
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat called for Arab states to declare willingness to join a U.S.-proposed international coalition against terror.
Arafat condemned Tuesday’s aerial attacks, saying he would be prepared to help in finding the responsible terrorists if the United States requires it.