France, Russia, Germany, Indonesia, and Pakistan, among others, have rallied behind the United States in its commitment to capture the perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The foreign ministers of Russia and Germany met separately with Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington today, both promising to support U.S. anti-terrorism efforts while emphasizing that no specific plans have been made.
“I have said that in combating international terrorism, no means can be excluded, including the use of force,” Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters. “At the same time, so far we have not discussed with the United States any specific, concrete actions.”
Russia is a key ally in the U.S.’s mission to find and punish Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks against the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Bin Laden and his al Qaeda network operate out of Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union waged a decade-long war that ended in 1991.
Because of its involvement in the region, some say Russia may hold valuable intelligence information about Afghanistan. The Russian government also still has military assets in the former Soviet and Central Asian states that border northern Afghanistan.
Russian officials have emphasized that while the use of force is an option, it is not a given. Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, the chief of Russia’s General Staff, said in Moscow that Russia “has not considered and is not planning to consider participation in a military operation against Afghanistan.”
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who met with Powell this morning, said his country will also assist the United States in its search for terrorists. Although officials have not yet determined Germany’s exact role in the mission, “we do not rule out any option,” Fischer said.
Reinforcing the commitment of the Russian and German foreign ministers, leaders of the world’s top industrialized nations issued a joint statement today encouraging improved cross-border cooperation to help the fight against terrorism.
The Group of Eight – the United States, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Japan and Canada – said in its statement it would combat terrorism through “expanded use of financial measures and sanctions to stop the flow of funds to terrorists, aviation security, the control of arms exports … the denial of all means of support to terrorism and the identification and removal of terrorist threats.”
French President Jaques Chirac, meeting with President Bush last night, said that France stands “in total solidarity” with the United States and wants to participate in the international effort to fight terrorism.
Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok echoed that sentiment, saying today that the Netherlands will “show [its] solidarity not only in words but in action.”
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, leader of the world’s largest Muslim population, joined President Bush today in condemning the terrorist attacks. Megawati said she will support Mr. Bush in his commitment to build a broad coalition against terrorism, but emphasized that the views of the Muslim world should be taken into account.
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf reassured his nation today that his willingness to aid the United States in its effort to find bin Laden does not threaten Islam or the Pakistani or Afghan people.
Musharraf told his people that the United States is seeking Pakistan’s help in gathering intelligence, figuring out logistics, and the use of its airspace. Pakistan shares a 1560-mile long border with Afghanistan.
Cooperation with the United States and the international community in the effort to combat terrorism will depict the country as a “responsible and dignified Pakistan,” Musharraf said. “Pakistan’s decisions will have far-reaching implications. A wrong decision could imperil our future.”