Most Allies Condemn Raid; Britain, Israel Voice Support : Self-Defense, Fears of More Violence Cited
With the exception of Britain and Israel, America’s major allies were unanimous today in condemning the U.S. bombing raid on Libya, saying a political response would have been wiser.
The Soviet Union called the attack a “bloody crime,” and later called off a planned meeting between U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze over summit plans. (Story on Page 1.)
Britain, which allowed the use of its bases to launch the air raids, stood alone among Western European allies in wholeheartedly defending the attack. Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe said the United States was exercising “the right of self-defense” against terrorism.
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres called the air raid an act of self-defense. “Undoubtedly Libya was behind the bombing (of the Berlin disco where a U.S. serviceman died), and it isn’t surprising that the United States takes steps of self-defense,” Peres said.
‘Restarts Chain of Violence’
France, which like Spain refused to allow the attacking U.S. F-111s to pass through its airspace during their 3,200-mile journey to targets inside Libya, said the attack “restarts the chain of violence” and makes “an intolerable situation worse.” The French Embassy in Tripoli was damaged during the U.S. raid.
Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez told a news conference that on Saturday U.S. envoy Vernon Walters had “indirectly” asked whether Spain would let U.S. military aircraft fly over Spain and whether four Spanish bases used by the United States would be available in case of action against Libya.
Gonzalez said he answered “no” to both “hypothetical questions.” Asked about the U.S. attack on Libya, Gonzalez said, “I disagree with the method they employed and I’ve informed the American government of this.”
Premier Bettino Craxi of Italy declared “the disagreement of the Italian government with the initiative and responsibility assumed by the United States. . . . Far from weakening terrorism, this military action risks provoking explosive reactions of fanaticism and criminal and suicide acts.”
He said the United States went ahead “despite the opposition of the Italian government.”
Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany said Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi had “challenged the international community” by sponsoring terror attacks and had to “consider that those threatened will protect themselves.” Asked whether the United States was justified, Kohl said, “I have an understanding for the growing exasperation of the American people.
“On the other hand, we have always said a violent solution will not be successful and is not very promising.”
A Dutch diplomat said the attack was “rather embarrassing” for Western Europe because hours before the U.S. planes struck, the European Community had called for restraint on all sides.