Europe Shows Support

EU president Belgium said on Monday the European Union's 15 heads of state and government would hold an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday following last week's terror attacks on the United States.

The emergency summit is meant to dovetail the anti-terrorist policies of the member nations and show solidarity with the U.S. after the hijacking attacks.

"The heads of state and government and the foreign ministers of the European Union will focus on the evolving international situation," said a statement issued by the office of Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.

The talks follow a slew of meetings between various EU ministers aimed at improving security within the EU and coordinating the bloc's response to last Tuesday's attacks in the United States, in which thousands of people were killed.

Belgium, which holds the EU presidency, proposed the meeting early Monday and the other EU nations quickly rallied behind the idea.

"It is only normal for us to assess the situation from up close and see how we can send a united response," said Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel in an interview.

The idea of an EU summit was first raised by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

EU foreign ministers already held an emergency session three days after the attack to show its support for the United States and transport ministers met in a special meeting to beef up airport security.

The most concrete support to date has been a pledge from Canada and the European allies in NATO to view support possible military retaliation by the United States.

"We have to make sure we get a total mobilization against terrorism," Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said at a book presentation Monday.

He also lauded the U.S. show of restraint in the first days, refraining from immediate attacks. "The United States has given a measured response its search for those guilty," he said.

He stressed that the EU's unequivocal support for the United States would also give it political leverage with Washington. "Our complete backing also means they will have to take our feelings and opinions into account," Michel said.

He added the evening summit would also be an ideal opportunity to streamline the EU's Middle East policy and come up with new ideas to contain the crisis, he said.

"We have to put more effort in trying to solve lingering problems which are a source of terrorism," he said. "It might be a good moment to try and make a diplomatic move in the Middle East. Maybe we can use this moment to push through an initiative."

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