Bush, NATO affirm solidarity

By KATHY A. GAMBRELL, White House reporter  |  Oct. 10, 2001 at 4:04 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson met Wednesday with President Bush in the Oval Office to reaffirm the alliance's solidarity with the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism as airstrikes against targets in Afghanistan continued in response to last month's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that killed more than 6,000 people.

"Today, NATO nations are acting together in a broad campaign against terror," Bush said in a Rose Garden appearance with Robertson. "Britain is side by side with us in Afghanistan. The nations of NATO are sharing intelligence, coordinating law enforcement, and cracking down on the financing of terrorist organizations."

Robertson arrived in Washington for talks with Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell on strategies to quickly and successfully win the campaign against terrorism, and to voice NATO's solidarity with the U.S.-led military action against Afghanistan.

NATO has 19 member countries and 17 associate members.

Bush thanked Robertson for the alliance's support and recounted that after the Sept. 11 attack, NATO allies stated that if it were determined that the attack originated from abroad it would be an action covered by Article 5 of the NATO charter, which says an attack against one member was an act against all.

It was the first time in the alliance's 52-year history that the article was invoked.

"It didn't take long for our friends to respond," he said. "A lot of that had to do with the leadership of Lord Robertson. This was an act of great friendship in a time of great need and our country will never forget it."

On Tuesday, Robertson praised Bush in an address to the NATO assembly for his response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I want to pay a tribute to your leadership during this difficult time for your country, this difficult time for the world as well," Robertson said Wednesday. "We stand shoulder to shoulder in a new kind of struggle, and a struggle that we have to win."

He added: "These terrorists are not 10 feet tall. They are not insuperable. They're not unvanquishable. But we are, and we can win and we certainly will win.

"And I am very, very proud that NATO and the 19 nations of the alliance are at the heart of a global coalition against the most evil criminals of our age."

For the first time in its history, on Tuesday, NATO deployed the first of five AWACS to the United States. That would free up planes for the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, NATO officials said. AWACS provide air surveillance and early warning capabilities for NATO forces.

Bush called the move "an unprecedented display of friendship."

Bush also called attention to efforts of non-NATO allies such as Russia, which has pledged intelligence and diplomatic support; the Organization of American States, which invoked the collective defense clause of the Rio Treaty; and other, varying degrees of support from Japan, Korea, Africa, China and Israel.

National security officials have identified Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and his al Qaida group as being behind the Sept. 11 attacks. On Wednesday, Bush placed bin Laden's name on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists placing a $ 5 million reward on his head.

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