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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 10:35 GMT
In quotes: World leaders react
World leaders and senior officials have reacted to the start of the US-led military operations against Iraq with some registering approval and others condemning the action.

Here is a selection of quotes:

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan:

China is concerned about the military actions that relevant countries have launched against Iraq, disregarding the strong hope and appeal of most countries and their people for peace and bypassing the United Nations Security Council.

[Xinhua news agency, Beijing]

Russian President Vladimir Putin:

Today the United States started a military action against Iraq. There are already human casualties and destruction. An entire region finds itself in danger of a large-scale humanitarian and ecological catastrophe. I should stress straight away that the hostilities are being carried out against world public opinion, against the principles and norms of international law and the UN Charter. This military action cannot be justified by anything.. [it] is a great political mistake.

[RTR Russia TV, Moscow]

French President Jacques Chirac:

France regrets this action started without United Nations backing, and I hope that these operations will be as quick as possible and will claim as few lives as possible and that they won't lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. To the last, France, with many other countries, strove to persuade [people] that the necessary disarmament of Iraq could be obtained by peaceful means. These efforts did not succeed. Whatever the duration of this conflict, it will have serious consequences for the future.

[France 2 TV, Paris]

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan

Today, despite the best efforts of the international community and the United Nations, war has come to Iraq for the third time in a quarter of a century. My thoughts today are with the Iraqi people, who face yet another ordeal. I hope that all parties will scrupulously observe the requirements of international humanitarian law and will do everything in their power to shield the civilian population from the grim consequences of war.

[UN statement to journalists]

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi:

American military operations in Iraq cannot be explained away and they lack legitimacy. The Islamic Republic of Iran will not enter the conflict on either side. New efforts must be made to reduce the multifarious effects of this war. The third war in this sensitive region began by the challenge to the authority of the UN. America's continuing refusal to pay attention to collective rationality and the precious achievements of half a century of efforts by various nations will result in the total destruction of security and peace.

[Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran]

Australian Prime Minister John Howard:

I can inform the house and inform the Australian public in general that forces have commenced combat and combat support operations. I simply want to say again to the magnificent men and women of the Australian Defence Force that, more than any other group of Australians, you are in our thoughts at this moment. there's always a risk of casualties in war. There's nothing inconsistent with acknowledging that, but expressing the hope that they'll all come home safe and sound.

[ABC Radio News, Sydney]

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri:

Indonesia strongly denounces the unilateral attack on Iraq. The Indonesian government calls on the Security Council of the United Nations to hold an emergency meeting to urge the United States and its allies to halt the war and be responsible for the humanitarian impact of the conflict on Iraq.

[Indonesian Television, Jakarta]

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo:

The war has just begun. The Philippines is part of the coalition of the willing. We are giving political and moral support for actions to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. This is a part of a long-standing security alliance. This is part of a global coalition against terrorism and this is vital to our national security.

[Quezon City ABS-CBN TV]

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi:

At this time, based on this belief, I understand and support the start of the United States' military action.

[NHK TV, Tokyo]

Malaysian Acting Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi:

Malaysia deeply regrets the action because it is against a multilateral process and the UN Charter as well as strongly against international law which has become the basis of world security and stability. Malaysia believes that there is no sufficient and logical proof to justify an attack on Iraq. This action is a blemish on world history. The war will have a negative impact not only on Iraq and near-by areas but also the whole West Asian [Middle East] region and the whole world. Anti-American sentiments will increase among people around the world.

[Kuala Lumpur RTM Television]

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark:

The fact that Iraq failed to take the opportunity provided to it to cooperate fully with the inspection and disarmament process means that the Iraqi people now face the prospect of serious hardship. The Iraqi leadership must take its full share of responsibility for that.

[Radio New Zealand]

South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun:

The international community, including the United States, has launched military actions against Iraq. A little while ago, I convened a National Security Council meeting and reconfirmed our government's position supporting this measure. International economic jitters are expected to continue for the time being because of this incident. We will be considerably affected in terms of economy and security. Coupled with the North Korean nuclear issue, now is indeed an important period for us. The government has already established emergency measures and started implementing the measures.

[South Korean KBS 1 TV, Seoul]

German Defence Minister Peter Struck:

One should have given the inspectors more time. This is also shown by Blix's report, namely that one could certainly assume there was cooperation. We think the current situation is politically wrong. What is important now is not discussing some political or international law issue. What is important now is that this war is concluded with as few victims as possible so that the country can be rebuilt afterwards. [ZDF Television, Mainz]

South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma:

This indeed is a very serious undermining of the world. We had organisations like the League of Nations, and the United Nations which in a sense were supposed to guarantee the fact that there would be no single country that will attack another country.

[Johannesburg SAfm Radio]

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma:

Ukraine will not participate in the military operation, but will offer assistance to protect the civilian population in the combat zone from the possible use of biological, chemical or radioactive weapons. Ukraine regrets the UN Security Council's inability to find a way to settle the Iraq crisis politically and diplomatically, leading to the beginning of military conflict. We call for everything possible to be done to minimise civilian victims.

[Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Kiev]

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

The BBC's Andrew Burroughs
"The signal for war was also the signal for worldwide anti-war demonstrations"


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