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Reagan Urges Arabs to Act on Terrorism : Cites Kadafi Ties to Soviet Invaders of Afghanistan

April 23, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan, rejecting suggestions that terrorism is an outgrowth of a conflict between the Arab world and the West, today called on Arab nations to "join with us to eliminate this scourge of civilization."

In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Reagan sought to drive a wedge between Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi and other Islamic leaders, pointing out that Kadafi has allied himself with the Soviets, whom he accused of supporting the slaughter of Muslims in Afghanistan.

Setting the stage for his 12-day trip to the Far East beginning Friday, Reagan said he will discuss terrorism with other allied leaders in Tokyo because "unilateral response is not enough."

"It must be dealt with forcefully and collectively" the President said, declaring that if the democratic nations allow it, terrorist attacks will "erect a wall of fear around nations and neighborhoods. It will dampen the joy of travel, the flow of trade, the exchange of ideas."

Interrupted by Applause

Reagan's audience interrupted him twice to applaud when he vowed to strike back, as he did last week against Libya, when innocent citizens "are murdered by those who would do our country harm."

"As we proved last week," Reagan said, his voice noticeably hoarse, "no one can kill Americans and brag about it. No one."

"Let no one mistake this for a conflict between the Western democracies and the Arab world," Reagan said. "Those who condone making war by cowardly attacks on unarmed third parties, including women and children, are but a tiny minority."

Pointing out that Arab nations have been victims of terrorism too, Reagan said, "We hope and pray the Arab world will join with us to eliminate this scourge of terrorism."

Hussein Support Claimed

After the U.S. air raid against Libya last week to punish Kadafi for terrorist attacks on Americans, King Hussein of Jordan was one of those the White House said announced support for Reagan's action.

"Col. Kadafi's expectation of unquestioned support from the Islamic world strikes me as hypocritical," Reagan said. "Nowhere is the slaughter of Muslim people greater than in Afghanistan. Yet, Col. Kadafi allies himself with those perpetrating this crime on Islam and all mankind."

The Soviet Union is Kadafi's principal arms supplier, and East Germany provides training and advisers for his revolutionary guard.

In what the White House billed as a major speech in advance of the President's trip to the economic summit in Tokyo, Reagan celebrated the expansion of democracy, particularly in Latin America, and lauded the rebels he calls "freedom fighters" in Nicaragua, Angola, Afghanistan and Cambodia.

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