Bin Laden death 'victory for all democracies': France

2nd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy congratulated his US counterpart Barack Obama on Monday on hunting down Osama bin Laden and agreed that both countries must fight on against Al-Qaeda.

"The president spoke this evening by telephone with President Barack Obama," said a statement from Sarkozy's Elysee Palace in Paris.

"The head of state hailed the determination of President Obama and of all those who, for the past 10 years, have pursued the leader of Al-Qaeda with tenacity and courage."

"The two heads of state agreed that, beyond the historic defeat that the death of Osama bin Laden marks for Al-Qaeda, the just and necessary battle against terrorist barbarism and those who support it must continue."

Earlier, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe had hailed Bin Laden's death at the hands of US commandos as a "victory for all democracies fighting the abominable scourge of terrorism.

"France, the United States and European states work closely together to fight terrorism, so I'm overjoyed at the news," he told France Inter state radio after Obama announced Bin Laden's death.

Sarkozy had said in his first statement on the matter: "The scourge of terrorism has suffered a historic defeat but it's not the end of Al-Qaeda."

"The combat against the criminals who claim to form part of it should continue without respite and unite all the states who are victims of these crimes," he said.

Juppe warned that the threat of terrorism would survive Bin Laden, citing the example of a bomb attack in Morocco last week that killed at least eight French citizens, and said Paris would remain on top alert.

"We will be more vigilant than ever. The terrorist threat is high. We saw that in Marrakesh a few days ago, alas," he said. "The fight is certainly not over against the worst kind of cowardice, attacks on the innocent."

Sarkozy issued a statement congratulating Washington on its "tenacity" in hunting down Bin Laden, a decade after Al-Qaeda's September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

"The announcement by President Obama of Osama Bin Laden's death following a remarkable American commando operation in Pakistan is a major event in the global struggle against terrorism," he said.

"France salutes the tenacity of the United States, which has been hunting him for 10 years," he continued.

"The principle author of the September 11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden was the promoter of an ideology of hate and the head of a terrorist organisation that has killed thousands across the whole world, notably in Muslim countries.

"For these victims, justice has been done. This morning, France is thinking of them and of their families," he said.

In addition to last week's victims in Morocco, France has suffered military losses in Afghanistan and civilian deaths in bomb attacks around the world.

Four French citizens are currently being held hostage in the Mali desert by Al-Qaeda's North African wing, one by Islamist fighters in Somalia and two by Afghan militants with ties to Al-Qaeda's Taliban allies.

© 2011 AFP

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