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Thursday, August 20, 1998 Published at 22:42 GMT 23:42 UK


Annan 'concerned' over US air strikes

Buildings burn in Khartoum after the US bombing

The United Nation's Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed "concern" at the US air strikes on targets in Sudan and Afghanistan in retaliation for the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

[ image: Kofi Annan: Concerned over attacks]
Kofi Annan: Concerned over attacks
In a statement issued through his New York office, Mr Annan, who is in Bali, said that he had been informed of Thursday's military strikes, on what Washington has described as terrorist targets, minutes after they had taken place.

The statement read: "He is concerned over these developments, and awaits further details."

While Mr Annan remained cautious about President Bill Clinton's decision to target groups held responsible for terrorist attacks, two of the US' key western allies threw their weight behind the action.

The UK's Prime minister Tony Blair, who has spent the past week dealing with the republican bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland, said that he "strongly supported" the air strikes.

Mr Blair was the first foreign leader to be contacted by Mr Clinton following the air strikes.

[ image: Tony Blair: First leader contacted by Clinton]
Tony Blair: First leader contacted by Clinton
In a statement issued by Downing Street, he said: "The atrocities this month in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Omagh have shown the pain and suffering terrorism can bring to innocent people.

"I strongly support this American action against international terrorists.

"Terrorists the world over must know that democratic governments will act decisively to prevent their evil crimes."

Netanyahu supports US

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also joined those supporting the US.

[ image: Netanyahu: Previously critical of US lack of action]
Netanyahu: Previously critical of US lack of action
A statement from his office said: "The prime minister welcomes the US decision to strike targets of terrorists in Sudan and Afghanistan."

In the past Israel has criticised the west for failing to take what it perceives as adequate action against terrorism.

Elsewhere, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry said that there would be no official comment until Friday.

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