World leaders react to death of Osama bin Laden

Leaders and officals around the world have issued varied reactions to the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been killed during a U.S. military operation in Pakistan. NATO has insisted it will continue fighting against militants in Afghanistan, and the United Nations said the death of bin Laden marked a “watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism.”

Announcing that the al-Qaeda leader had been killed by U.S. special forces during a forty-minute raid on a compound in Abbottabad, near the capital Islamabad, U.S. President Barack Obama said it was “a good day for America.” Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate winners of the Medal of Honor, Obama praised the “anonymous heroes” who took part in the operation. He said: “We may not always know their names, we may not always know their stories, but they are always there on the front lines of freedom and we are truly blessed. As commander-in-chief, I could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform.”

Barack Obama announces the news that bin Laden had been killed. He said it was "a good day for America." Image: White House.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the chief of NATO, vowed the organization would remain fighting in Afghanistan despite the death of bin Laden. “As terrorism continues to pose a direct threat to our security and international stability, international cooperation remains key and NATO is at the heart of that cooperation,” he said in a statement. “NATO allies and partners will continue their mission to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for extremism, but develops in peace and security.”

The U.N. and the European Parliament also welcomed the news. Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general, said: “The death of Osama bin Laden, announced by President Obama last night, is a watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism. The crimes of al-Qaeda touched most continents, bringing tragedy and loss of life to thousands of men, women and children.”

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, said the news “will be welcomed right across our country” and was a “massive step forward,” but warned the death of bin Laden “does not mark the end of the threat we face from extremist terror.” Italian Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi said: “This is a great outcome in the fight against evil, in the fight against terrorism, a great outcome for the United States and for all democracies”.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the killing of bin Laden was a “decisive strike” at al-Qaeda. “At his command and in his name, terror was enforced into many countries against men women and children, Christians as well as Muslims,” she said. “Osama bin Laden suggested that he was operating in the name of Islam, but in reality he makes a mockery of the fundamental values of his own and every other religion.”

Several Asian countries also said bin Laden’s death was a step forward in the war against terrorism. Chinese spokeswoman Jiang Yu said “China has taken note of the announcement. We believe the death of Osama bin Laden is a milestone and a positive development for the international anti-terrorism efforts.” Japan, Malaysia and Singapore also welcomed the news.

Australia pledged not to withdraw forces from Afghanistan after the announcement. “Osama bin Laden declared war on innocent people and today he has paid the price for that declaration,” Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister, said. “The mission in Afghanistan will continue,” she added, saying al-Qaeda “will continue”. Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, said bin Laden was a “promoter of the ideology of hatred and was the chief of a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands of victims, especially in Muslim countries,” and “justice has been done” for the victims of al-Qaeda attacks.

Cquote1.svg Osama bin Laden suggested that he was operating in the name of Islam, but in reality he makes a mockery of the fundamental values of his own and every other religion. Cquote2.svg
—Angela Merkel

US defence secretary arrives in Afghanistan

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates flew into Afghanistan today for talks with commanders and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, as Washington reviews its strategy in the nine-year war.

His unannounced trip comes amid further tensions between Washington and Kabul after leaked American diplomatic cables offered a scathing account of Karzai and his corruption-tainted allies.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Michael Robert Gates speaks during the US Forces-Iraq change of command ceremony in Baghdad, Wednesday Sept. 1, 2010 (AP Photo/Jim Watson, pool)

Gates travelled to the sprawling Bagram air base, a year after US President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 extra American troops into the war in a strategy overhaul, also renewing efforts to build up Afghan security forces.

“He arrives here feeling very good about the progress that has been made in the past year,” press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters travelling with Gates. The trip will help shape a war strategy review under way in the White House, Morrell told reporters.

“This visit will inform that discussion back in Washington,” he said.

Gilani visits Afghanistan, hold talks with Karzai

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today made a sudden visit to Afghanistan where he held talks with President Hamid Karzai.


Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (right) with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Islamabad in March October 12, 2010

Gilani’s visit at the head of a high-level government delegation, was announced only last evening and described as a move to boost bilateral and business ties between the two countries.

A formal welcome ceremony was held at the Presidential Palace for the Prime Minister. Gilani is accompanied by Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and Minister for Interior A Rehman Malik, APP reported.

As Gilani began his two-day visit, the Pakistani ambassador in Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq said Islamabad’s relations with Kabul have vastly improved over the last five years.

Files will risk ‘countless’ lives, Obama administration warns Wikileaks

The United States government has urged Wikileaks not to publish new files because they will risk “countless” lives. In a letter to Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website, the Obama administration said that releasing the documents, rumoured to be seven times the size of the Iraq War Logs, would be in breach of U.S. law, and would result in “grave consequences.” Assange replied by stating that the U.S. did not want to be held to account.

In a letter to Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, the Obama administration said that releasing the documents would risk "countless" lives. Image: Martina Haris.

It is thought that the files will include correspondence between U.S. diplomats around the world. Wikinews reported on Saturday that officials in Washington were contacting embassies around the world to warn diplomats of the leak. The letter to Assange came after he questioned who would be at risk from the publication of the documents. In the letter, Harold Koh, the US state department’s legal advisor, ordered Wikileaks to return the documents. “We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained US government classified materials,” Koh wrote, adding that the documents could jeopardize counter-terrorism operations.

Analysts have said that the letter reflects the U.S. administration’s concern over possible publication of the files, which may contain American diplomats’ opinions of other politicians, some of which may be candid and embarrassing. It is not known when the documents will be published, but Koh said in the letter that he had spoken to The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel about the documents. Earlier this year, Wikileaks released 70,000 documents detailing military actions in Afghanistan.

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