Outraged Yeltsin denounces `indecent' US behaviour

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The Independent Online
RUSSIA'S LEADER declared he was "outraged" yesterday by United States' attacks in Afghanistan and Sudan and complained that he had received no advance warning.

In an outburst delivered with the jutting jaw he reserves for his more theatrical moments, Boris Yeltsin denounced US behaviour as "indecent". His condemnation came only 11 days before Bill Clinton is due in Moscow for a summit. Not being informed in advance has rankled with Mr Yeltsin, who said: "My attitude is indeed negative as it would be to any act of terrorism, military interference, or failure to solve a problem through talks. I am outraged and I denounce this."

Elsewhere in the world, opinion was divided. Western European nations predictably supported the US action, although in a more lukewarm fashion than Britain, which backed Washington's stance unreservedly on Thursday.

France delayed an official reaction for 15 hours after the raids were announced and its wording hinted at pique that France, unlike Britain, was not told of the strikes beforehand.

"France takes note of the decision by US authorities who carried out yesterday's bombings and invoked the right to legitimate self-defence recognised by international law," a foreign ministry statement said.

In Peking, China announced simply that its "position of condemning all forms of terrorist activities is clear", while Muslim Indonesia said: "In the fight against terrorism, Indonesia cannot condone intervention or aggression towards sovereign nations."

Neighbouring Malaysia was more outspoken. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed called America a bully.

Japan said it "understood" America's "resolute attitude against terrorism".

Public opinion in the Arab world and throughout the Middle East was mostly hostile to Washington. On the Israeli- occupied West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians chanted threats against President Clinton and burned US flags. In Tripoli, the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi personally led a protest, shouting "Down with the USA".

Iran also condemned what it said was a violation of Sudan's national sovereignty. Tehran did not condemn the strikes on Afghanistan, however, as it has a poor relationship with the ruling Taliban militia.