Straw: There is no opting out from terror

Keeping out of international engagement is no protection from terror, said UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw, while giving support to Turkey’s EU membership.

The new Spanish government's threat to pull its troops out of Iraq has led Jack Straw, the UK Foreign Minister, to warn against the idea that countries can avoid terrorism by disengaging: "The argument that there is some kind of opt-out from the terrorists' target list to be gained by adopting a non-engaged foreign policy is not only false but profoundly dangerous," Mr Straw said in a speech in Copenhagen, standing by his Danish counterpart, Per Stig Mý, whose country participated in the Iraq war alongside US and UK troops.

The speech by Straw was delivered a day before the state funeral in Madrid on 24 March for the victims of the Madrid terror bombings. The UK's Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French President Jacques Chirac and US Secretary of State Colin Powell are all expected to be present.

The funeral will provide an occasion for world leaders to meet new Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who, according to his election promise, has pledged to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq unless UN takes control of the country's peace-keeping operations.

On Turkey's candidacy for membership of the EU, Straw said: "If we believe, as I strongly do, that Europe's strength lies not in a Judaeo-Christian club but in a diversity of traditions underpinned by common and universal values, then we must fulfil our engagements to Turkey. We have recognised Turkey as a candidate for membership. Now we must be clear that Turkey will be treated as any other EU candidate, without fear or favour."


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