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Tuesday, 2 October, 2001, 00:50 GMT 01:50 UK
NY mayor urges anti-terror pact
Manhattan skyline after collapse of World Trade Center
The UN hopes the attacks will galvanise global action

The devastating suicide attacks in the United States were a direct assault on the world order, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has told the UN General Assembly.

There's no room for neutrality - you're either with civilisation or with terrorists

NY Mayor Giuliani
Mr Giuliani urged UN members to unite in the interests of international peace and security, at the start of a debate in New York aimed at securing a global accord against terrorism.

He has been widely praised for the way he has led the city following the 11 September suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with the loss of thousands of lives.

Opening the debate, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the attacks had "wounded the entire world" - shared adversity, he said, had brought the UN and New York closer together.

Rudy Giuliani
Mayor Giuliani has led from the front
Mr Annan wants members to sign and ratify 12 existing UN conventions on terrorism, and to adopt a new convention which would close many of the loopholes in existing international law.

Mr Giuliani called for action, not words.

"The evidence of terrorism's contempt for life and the concept of peace is lying beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center, less than two miles from where we meet today," he said in an impassioned appeal.

The existing UN conventions on terrorism were largely ignored before last month's atrocities.

Their ratification and the adoption of a new global convention proposed by India have so far been delayed by arguments over the definition of terrorism.

The BBC's UN correspondent Greg Barrow says there is hope that the gathering will give added momentum to the Indian initiative.

Indian diplomats say arguments can be resolved by defining what constitutes an act of terrorism as anything that goes beyond the Geneva Conventions on war.

Taleban will 'pay price'

The week-long meeting in New York comes as Americans are being warned by their government that "further terrorist activity" is likely in response to prospective military action against Afghanistan.

Workers clear rubble at ground zero
It will take a year to clear the rubble in New York
And following a request by US Attorney General John Ashcroft, Reuters news agency reported, Democrats and Republicans from the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee tentatively agreed to a toned-down version of President Bush's new anti-terrorism package.

Their bill, to be formally introduced to the house on Tuesday, includes expanded phone-tapping and internet tracking powers, and tougher measures against people who knowingly harbour suspected terrorists.

More than 6,000 people lost their lives when four US civilian airliners were hijacked simultaneously on 11 September.

Two were flown into the twin trade towers in New York, a third hit the Pentagon in Washington and a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers apparently staged a revolt against the hijackers.

The ruling Taleban in Afghanistan have been told to hand over the main suspect in the attacks, Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden, or face the consequences.

On Sunday, the Taleban said that Bin Laden was still in Afghanistan at an unknown location.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it was "self-evident" the Taleban would pay the price if they did not hand him over.

The United States has massed troops, warplanes and aircraft carriers within striking distance of Afghanistan in preparation for possible military action.

Some reports say US and UK special forces are already operating within Afghanistan.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur in Washington
"There is nothing simple about waging war on terror"
See also:

01 Oct 01 | Business
Poverty warning after US attacks
30 Sep 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Decoding Taleban's message
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
30 Sep 01 | South Asia
UN aid heads for Kabul
30 Sep 01 | South Asia
Former Afghan king finds US favour
01 Oct 01 | UK
UK freezes terror funds
25 Sep 01 | Americas
Guide to military strength
30 Sep 01 | South Asia
Funding the 'heroes of Islam'
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