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EU: Leaders Declare Solidarity With U.S.

Washington, 22 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- European Union leaders have declared their total solidarity with the United States as Washington prepares for possible military action to retaliate for the terror attacks on New York and Washington. At an emergency anti-terrorism summit, the 15 EU leaders endorsed "targeted" retaliation by the U.S. against terrorists and countries that support them.

The EU leaders also decided to send a ministerial mission to Middle Eastern countries next week in a bid to promote peace with Israel. The mission is expected to visit Iran, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The EU leaders called for the creation of the broadest possible coalition under United Nations auspices to combat terrorism.

The EU leaders emphasized that the terrorism battle was not with Islam, but with extremists.

The EU leaders also called for the adoption of a common definition of terrorism and ordered measures including an EU-wide search and arrest warrant and creation of a common list of suspected terrorist organizations.

Afghanistan's Taliban has rejected an ultimatum by President George W. Bush to immediately hand over Osama bin Laden and other suspected terrorists. The Taliban has demanded to see definite proof of bin Laden's guilt. The U.S. has rejected this, saying it would compromise intelligence.

U.S. forces are continuing to move toward the Middle East and South Asia, in preparation for possible action. More planes were ordered to the region yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press quotes Taliban officials this morning as saying its forces shot down a pilotless aircraft over the northern province of Samangan.

International aid agencies said there is a worsening humanitarian situation in and around Afghanistan, with tens of thousands of refugees moving toward the Pakistani border and Iran and Tajikistan.

In Britain, authorities have announced the arrest of four people in connection with the September 11 terror attacks. Investigations into the attacks are also continuing in Germany and France.

U.S. stocks fell for a fifth consecutive day on Friday, with traders worried about the global economy and how the U.S. will retaliate for the terror attacks, which are believed to have killed more than 6,000 people. The key Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week down by more than 14 percent - the worst weekly drop since the Great Depression.

The United Arab Emirates, or UAE, today cut off diplomatic relations with Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement.

The official UAE news agency (WAM) quotes an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry as saying the move came after unsuccessfully trying to persuade the Taliban to hand over Saudi-born extremist Osama bin Laden to the United States.

The UAE had been one of only three countries to recognize the legitimacy of the Taliban government. The others are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. Congress has approved a $15 billion rescue package for the U.S. airline industry.

The package, approved by the House of Representatives and Senate, provides $5 billion in direct cash assistance and $10 billion in loan guarantees.

The legislation now goes to President George W. Bush for his signature.

Airlines have suffered massive economic losses since suicide hijackers crashed four passenger planes in last week's terror attacks on the U.S.

U.S. airlines and the Boeing aircraft-maker have announced more than 100,000 job cuts since the attacks.

The British and German governments yesterday reached deals over rising insurance costs to keep British and German airlines flying in the wake of the U.S. attacks.

NATO member Turkey said today it will grant a U.S. request to use Turkish airspace and air bases for U.S. transport aircraft in any response to last week's terrorist attacks. A statement issued by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's office also says Turkey will increase its assistance to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

The cockpit voice recorder for hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 reveals that a struggle took place before it crashed in a rural part of Pennsylvania. Today's New York Times reports that the recording picked up scuffling sounds, as well as shouts in English and Arabic, but that it is not possible to distinguish who was involved or what happened. It is believed that some of the passengers prevented hijackers from striking an unknown target.

Belarus is pledging its support to the worldwide anti-terrorism campaign launched after what it called the "inhumane" terrorist attacks on the U.S. It vowed never to give aid or shelter to terrorists. But in a Foreign Ministry statement released last night, Belarus urges the international community to use force judiciously to prevent the suffering of innocent people.

A mosque in the Australian city of Brisbane was badly damaged today in what authorities believe was a case of arson. Muslims in the northeastern state of Queensland are appealing for increased police protection. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said people must not allow what he called their "natural anger at the extremes of Islam" to spill over to Islamic people generally.