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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 18:08 GMT
Bush warns of nuclear terror
George Bush in Warsaw in June 2001
Bush: Hoping for tighter security against terrorists
US President George Bush has said Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation is seeking to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Speaking by videolink to 17 eastern and central European leaders meeting in Warsaw, Mr Bush said the al-Qaeda network was trying to export "terror throughout the world".

The European leaders applauded warmly when he thanked them for supporting the US-led campaign against al-Qaeda - which Washington blames for the 11 September attacks in the United States - and the group's Taleban protectors in Afghanistan.


World leaders are concerned that Europe's less stable half does not become the continent's 'soft underbelly'

The BBC's Ray Furlong
"We stand by the American nation just as they supported us in our struggle for freedom," they said in a declaration after the meeting.

They adopted an anti-terrorism plan including tighter border controls, better coordination of intelligence services and closer scrutiny of the banking sector to combat money laundering.

Many of the 17 leaders are eager to bring their former communist countries into the western military alliance Nato, analysts said.

In other developments

  • Anthrax is found in post at the US consulate in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg
  • Pentagon officials deny reports that a US helicopter crashed in Pakistan after being fired on by the Taleban
  • Opposition Northern Alliance forces say they have captured three villages near Mazar-e-Sharif, but the Taleban say they fought them off
  • The UN says the Taleban is hindering humanitarian efforts inside Afghanistan
  • The US transport secretary says there was a security failure of dramatic dimensions at Chicago's O'Hare airport
  • More US special forces move into Afghanistan to co-ordinate air strikes, the Pentagon says
  • India's prime minister visits Russia to ensure a key role in any Afghan administration after the Taleban

"Al-Qaeda operates in more than 60 nations including some in Central and Eastern Europe. These terrorist groups seek to destabilise entire nations and regions," Mr Bush said.

"They're seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and eventually, to civilisation itself."

'With us or against us'

Speaking at the White House later after meeting French President Jacques Chirac, Mr Bush said he was unsure whether Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation already had such weapons.

"He announced that this was his intention and I believe we need to take him seriously," Mr Bush said.


All nations, if they want to fight terror, must do something... You're either with us or you're against us

President Bush
Mr Bush also increased pressure on US allies to take an active part in the campaign, saying: "It is time for action."

"A coalition partner must do more than just express sympathy," Mr Bush said. "A coalition partner must perform."

But he did not single out any country for failing to support the US-led campaign.

Mr Chirac pledged continued French support, but opinion polls show growing doubts about the military action in Afghanistan among the French public.

The BBC's Central Europe correspondent Ray Furlong says world leaders are concerned that eastern and central Europe does not become the continent's "soft underbelly", vulnerable to terrorist penetration.

Money-laundering fears

Eastern Europe is also featuring in the investigation into the 11 September attacks on America.

Poland's Prime Minister Leszek Miller with Tony Blair
Western Europe has overshadowed Eastern Europe in the war on terror
Poland has revealed that suspects in the attacks on the World Trade Center travelled across its territory, and the Czech Republic has said that Mohammed Atta, suspected of piloting one of the hijacked planes, met an Iraqi agent in Prague.

There are also fears about the region being used for money-laundering, and as a route for drug-smuggling.

Support falling

Some east European leaders have said the 11 September attacks underline the need for the accelerated entry of their countries into Nato and the European Union.

Mr Bush said he stuck to his vision of Europe as a "house of freedom" - outlined in a visit to Poland earlier this year.

Continued expansion of Nato and the European Union were part of that vision.

Latest opinion polls in Poland show support for military action is falling.

Only 30% would favour sending their troops into Afghanistan, compared to 60% immediately after the attacks on the US.

So far, the Czech Republic is the only country in the region that says it is preparing forces for action - an anti-chemical warfare unit.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The Americans are determined their message of justice will prevail"
US President, George W. Bush
"We must lift this dark threat"
See also:

26 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Bin Laden's 'nuclear threat'
05 Nov 01 | UK Politics
European allies reaffirm war support
06 Nov 01 | South Asia
UN hits back over Afghan aid
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