WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Colin Powell is moving to shore up international support for the fight against terrorism, as the U.S. administration considers pre-emptive strikes to prevent future attacks.
Powell is traveling to Canada on Wednesday to meet with his counterparts from the world's top industrialized countries: Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. They are gathering in Whistler, British Columbia, to prepare for the Group of Eight leaders summit to be held later this month in Kananaskis, Alberta.
Counterterrorism is high on the agenda, as are nuclear disarmament, the Middle East, Afghanistan and the ongoing tension between India and Pakistan.
"It's a chance to go over many of the things that are on our minds at this moment, many of the issues that are of concern to everybody," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday.
"I think the United States is going to want to gain support on the terrorism thing on a broad basis, so there's no leakage among any of the governments represented in terms of concentrating very much on this," said John Hunter, a former NATO ambassador and senior adviser at Rand Corp., a nonpartisan think tank.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, who assumed the job in January, says there's no evidence that the anti-terror alliance is fraying. But the United States would be wise to ensure that cultural misunderstandings don't get in the way, he said.
"I don't think they're less serious about it but they may tend to approach it culturally differently," Graham said. "I think that's where we want to try to understand how we can approach it best together."
The administration of President George W. Bush is building its case for a "strike first" approach toward terrorists who are trying to get nuclear, chemical or biological weapons to use against the United States or other nations.
Bush plans to present the policy to Congress later this year as part of his first national security strategy. He and Vice President Dick Cheney outlined it Monday for the International Democrat Union, a group of conservative world politicians.
Boucher said Powell had no specific plans to raise the first-strike issue, "but certainly he's ready to respond to anything people ask him."
The meeting, being held at a posh mountain resort village north of Vancouver, provides Powell with a chance to feel out his counterparts on the United States' plans for Iraq. U.S. allies have shown little appetite for a military campaign against Iraq without hard evidence it had a role in the Sept. 11 attacks.
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