NEW YORK (Sep. 23)
In a speech at the United Nations Monday, President Clinton put the fight against terrorism at the top of the U.S. agenda and suggested that the world follow suit.
“We must show people they have everything to gain by embracing cooperation and renouncing violence,” he told the world leaders gathered at the 53rd session of the U.N. General Assembly. “This is not simply an American or a Western responsibility; it is the world’s responsibility.”
Clinton’s remarks came on the same day that Iranian President Mohammad Khatami also spoke.
The State Department recently listed Iran as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, and it is known to support anti-Israel guerrillas in Lebanon. But Khatami denied this role in his U.N. speech, stressing instead the need for “dialogue among civilizations.”
While Khatami did not repeat his criticism of the Oslo peace accords, he did say that “Palestine” is the homeland of Muslims, Christians and Jews and “not the laboratory for the violent whims of Zionists.”
Clinton’s concern with terrorist activity was reiterated in speeches by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and by Chandrika Kumaratunga, the president of Sri Lanka, two countries beleaguered for years by ethnic and sectarian fighting.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also spoke about the issue in his opening address, delivered Monday morning before President Clinton spoke. In his remarks, Annan included a veiled rebuke to the United States, which on Aug. 20 bombed targets in Sudan and Afghanistan that the Administration said were linked to a terrorist ring run by Osama Bin Laden.
“Terrorism is a global menace,” Annan said. “Individual actions by member states, whether aimed at state or non-state actors, cannot in themselves provide a solution.”
Clinton neither outlined a new American anti-terrorism policy nor addressed the U.S. missile attacks, which have received criticism from a number of countries.
The administration has said the attacks were launched in retaliation for terrorist bombings at two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Clinton recommended broad guidelines for fighting terrorism that he insisted did not reflect antagonism between the United States and the Muslim world.
The administration will ask Congress this week for $1.8 billion to bolster security at American embassies and to assist countries where political and economic conditions encourage terrorist recruitment.
The president received a warm reception at the world body on the day his videotaped testimony in the grand jury investigation of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky played on televisions and computer screens nationwide — and as rumors of a possible impeachment proceeding echoed on Capitol Hill.