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4/25/04 - STANDING UP TO AL-QAIDA - 2004-04-24

European leaders have rejected a so-called “truce” offered by al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. In an audiotape aired on Arab television stations, a man believed to be bin Laden offered to cease terrorist attacks on European countries that withdraw their troops from Muslim countries.

“No dealings are possible with terrorists,” said French President Jacques Chirac. France’s ambassador to the U.S., Jean-David Levitte, says Europe is not the only region threatened by terrorism:

“We will stay together in this fight against terrorism because it is a challenge to our values, but also to the values of the Islamic world. These are forces of destruction, and all our governments want to build a better world, to build a world of dialogue, a world of peace.”

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder dismissed the al-Qaida leader’s offer as an attempt to divide Europe. He said Europe “must respond with one voice to the threat.” Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi recently visited Iraq, where some three-thousand Italian troops are serving. He said there should be no doubt that Italy will honor its commitments to Iraq.

“We will not back down in the face of attacks either on us or on defenseless civilians,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. President George W. Bush says he and Mr. Blair are committed to seeing Iraqi sovereignty achieved on June 30th:

“The prime minister [Blair] and I have made our choice. Iraq will be free. Iraq will be independent. Iraq will be a peaceful nation and we will not waver.”

Mr. Bush says the terrorists are clearly on the defensive, and they know it:

“The terrorists have lost the shelter of the Taleban and the training camps in Afghanistan. They’ve lost safe havens in Pakistan. They lost an ally in Baghdad. And Libya has turned its back on terror. They’ve lost many leaders in an unrelenting international manhunt.”

The most frightening development for the terrorists, says President Bush, is “the advance of freedom and reform in the greater Middle East.”