Sympathy and condemnation for the Bastille Day attack in Nice dominated the opening of an Asia Europe summit in Mongolia today (15 July), drawing attention away from Beijing’s rejection of a tribunal ruling dismissing its extensive South China Sea claims.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), held every two years and which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, is supposed to be a venue for increasing cooperation across the Eurasian region and exploring ways to strengthen the global system of agreements that govern everything from trade to civil aviation.
Counter-terrorism efforts had been due to be discussed, but the issue was given renewed urgency by the outrage in Nice, where a truck ploughed into Bastille Day revellers, killing at least 80 in what President François Hollande called a “terrorist” attack.
A truck ploughed into a crowd in the French resort of Nice, killing at least 80 in what President François Hollande today (15 July) called a “terrorist” attack on revellers watching a Bastille Day fireworks display.
Leaders and representatives of governments from Ireland to Indonesia held a minute’s silence for the victims at the opening of the summit in Ulan Bator.
“It’s a tragic paradox that the subject of this attack were people celebrating liberty, equality and fraternity,” said European Council President Donald Tusk.
“Today we all, Europe and Asia, stand united with the French people and their government. We condemn this tragedy and keep up our fight against extreme violence and hatred.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that “cowardly terrorism engulfing innocent people is unforgivable”, according to Jiji Press, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was also among those who expressed his sympathy for the victims.
Politicians from around the world reacted with horror to the Bastille Day terrorist attack. Following are the main reactions:
– US President Barack Obama condemned what he said appeared to be a “horrific terrorist attack”.
“We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack,” he said in a statement.
“On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world.”
– US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had been in Paris earlier in the day for a Bastille Day parade, said: “The United States will continue to stand firmly with the French people during this time of tragedy. We will provide whatever support is needed.”
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter: “Canadians are shocked by tonight’s attack in Nice. Our sympathy is with the victims, and our solidarity with the French people.”
– A spokesman for new British Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack “a terrible incident”, adding “we are shocked and concerned”.
– Boris Johnson, whose first engagement as Britain’s new foreign secretary was at the French ambassador’s Bastille Day party in London, said on Twitter: “Shocked and saddened by the appalling events in Nice, and the terrible loss of life.”
– New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that he was “sickened by news of another senseless attack”.
– Donald Tusk called it “a sad day for France, for Europe”. He said it was “tragic” that “the subjects of the attack were people celebrating liberty, equality and fraternity”.
– Chinese Premier Li Keqiang offered his “condolences” to the victims and said China opposed all forms of terrorism.
– The United Nations Security Council called the attack “barbaric and cowardly”.
– The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev conveyed his condolences to the people of France and said Europe and Asia should be united against terrorism.