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Rome watching Howard readiness for preemptive strike against terror in Asia

The Fides news service of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith is reporting that re-elected Australian Prime Minister John Howard has "confirmed his commitment to the war on terrorism" and said he is "ready to take preventive military action to destroy cells of terror in South East Asia".

Fides points out that Mr Howard has "said this in the past and was strongly criticised by neighbour countries". It says former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad described Australia as an "agent at the service of the United States", and that Indonesia and the Philippines also protested.

The agency said that Mr Howard has been "encouraged with this re-election for a fourth term" and consequently "confirmed his intentions". It points out that that the recent terrorist attack targeting the Australian Embassy in Jakarta as a factor in his renewed commitment to the "war against terror" in Asia.

With regard to Australia's relations with the United States it quoted the Prime Minister as saying that it is "possible to have good relations with America and with our Asian neighbours".

On Tuesday Australia commemorated the second anniversary of the Bali bombing in which 88 of the 202 casualties were Australians.

War on terrorism, preventive military measures: re-elected Prime Minister Howard determined to fight terror in south east Asia: "Terrorists despise weakness, take advantage of a retreat and punish indecision" (Fides 13/10/04)

15 Oct 2004