The Washington Post

Paul Wong
President Bush (right) greets French President Jacques Chirac in the Oval Office of the White House yesterday. Bush is reaching out to world<br><br>AP PHOTO

WASHINGTON Pausing to mark the terrorist attacks of a week before with a moment of silence, President Bush yesterday engaged in an intensive round of diplomacy designed “to rally the world” for the war he has promised against those responsible for the attacks.

At a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, Bush said he is determined to build an international coalition for the long and difficult war against terrorism and said this is a moment for other nations to stand and be counted. “If you love freedom, you must join with us,” Bush said.

Chirac stopped short of calling the campaign against terrorism a “war,” as Bush and many U.S. officials have described it, but he said France stands “in total solidarity” with the United States and added that he was prepared to discuss with Bush “all means to fight and eradicate this evil.”

Bush”s meeting with Chirac last night was the first of a series of face-to-face meetings with world leaders this week that includes a dinner tomorrow with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and sessions today with President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia, the world”s largest Muslim nation, and with the foreign ministers of Russia and Germany.

The diplomatic effort also includes reaching out to such nations as Cuba and the Sudan, two nations with which the U.S. has had an adversarial relationship.

Secretary of State Colin Powell also will meet with a parade of top officials from other countries as the administration continues its private preparations for a response to last week”s attacks, using what administration officials called a “carrot-and-stick” approach to encourage support from other nations.

U.S. efforts to assemble an international coalition for a campaign against Osama bin Laden and other terrorists received a boost yesterday when Palestinians and Israelis announced steps to enforce a cease-fire after a year of escalating violence and bloodshed. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East had threatened to undermine U.S. efforts to build momentum for its anti-terrorism campaign with many Arab and Muslim countries.

The developments came after Powell, in what officials described as a long and tough conversation Monday night, implored Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon not to squander an opportunity to renew cooperation with the Palestinians and warned that Israel would be ceding the moral high ground to the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat if they refused.

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