Straw rejects Iraq link to London
London Independent | July 18, 2005
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has rejected suggestions that nations which backed the US in Iraq were more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
Straw was responding to a report by Chatham House, Britain's Royal Institute of International Affairs, which said Britain's close ties with Washington and involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan left it at greater risk of a terrorist attack.
"I'm astonished Chatham House is now saying that we should not have stood shoulder to shoulder with our long-standing allies," Straw said before chairing an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.
"The time for excuses for terrorism is over," Straw added.
"The terrorists have struck across the world, in countries allied with the US, backing the war in Iraq and in countries which had nothing whatever to do with the war in Iraq."
Chatham House and another think-tank, the Economic and Social Research Council, said the situation in Iraq had given "a boost" to the al Qaida network's ability to recruit and raise money.
Straw said this weekend's attack at a beach resort in Turkey also showed that terrorists "will seek any excuse" to strike. "They struck this weekend in Turkey, which was not supporting our action in Iraq," Straw said.
The EU foreign ministers endorsed a decision made last week by EU justice and interior ministers to speed up implementation of the EU's anti-terror action plan following the deadly attacks in London on July 7.
"The attacks are an affront to everything the European Union stands for," the ministers said in a statement. "The Union is absolutely determined terrorists will not succeed."
The EU ministers also said they would help other, poorer countries set up tighter anti-terrorist measures - like improved border checks.