Schroder tells EU to put 'petty squabbles' aside

Labour conference: Foreign affairs
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Indy Politics

Gerhard Sschröder, the German Chancellor, has demanded an end to "squabbling and petty jealousies" in the European Union, to help the fight against terrorism.

Making the first address by a German leader to the Labour conference yesterday, he pleaded for the EU to use the crisis triggered by the attacks of 11 September on New York and Washington to come together.

In words certain to arouse the suspicions of Eurosceptic Tories, Mr Schröder called for more co-operation in political, economic and cultural matters, as well as security issues.

He urged the EU to develop the Euro-Atlantic community as "an anchor for stability", and to strengthen Europe's capacity to respond to international emergencies. And he echoed British calls to "improve international co-operation ... to trace and dry out the financial resources of international terrorism".

The German Chancellor attempted to repair some of the diplomatic damage caused by scathing references by the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, to the Muslim world. In his 15-minute address to the Labour conference, he said: "We refuse to be dragged into a 'clash of the cultures' by the terrorists. Rather, we will jointly take up the fight against terrorism, the fight for the civilisation of our one world."

Mr Schröder said the terrorist attacks in the US had united the world in a fight for "human civilisation" as the victims included people of all religions. "This new dimension of faceless barbarism illustrates that the 11 September attack was not only directed at the USA. It was aimed at the entire civilised world, and equally so at Christian, Jewish, Islamic and other beliefs," he said.

Earlier, Gordon Brown called for a drive to cut off "the life-blood of modern terrorism" by targeting funding. "No institution, no bank, no finance house anywhere in the world should be harbouring or processing funds for terrorists."

The Chancellor urged other countries to follow Britain's lead in freezing £60m of funds believed to be used by terrorist groups. He said: "We must do more to cut off the supply, not just of money, but of weapons.

"Just as Britain has now banned export credits for armament sales to 65 countries, it is time now for all countries to restrict credits for arms sold to the poorest countries, because that same money should be spent not on piling up weapons but on reducing poverty.

"September 11 transformed our times and our task. ... it has now fallen to our generation to bear the burden of defeating international terrorism."