Extremist fight not over: French foreign minister

Last Updated: Sunday, September 11, 2011 - 15:41

Canberra: French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the fight against extremism was not finished, condemning it as a "barbarian form of violence" at Australian commemorations Sunday of the September 11 attacks.

Juppe and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd laid a wreath at the National War Memorial in Canberra to remember the thousands of people killed on this day ten years ago in the United States.

"The fight against terrorism is not finished, and there is very much a cooperation between France and Australia in the struggle against this barbarian form of violence," Juppe said.

Rudd said the anniversary was a sobering reminder that an event like September 11 "could easily have happened in Paris, it could easily have happened in Sydney.

"And it could still happen, which is why the price of freedom is eternal vigilance," he said.

"In France, Australia (and) our common ally the United States, we continue to maintain our vigilance," Rudd added.

Australia is a key partner in the US-led fight in Afghanistan, with a contingent of some 1,500 troops, and the anniversary reignited the debate about Canberra`s commitment to the protracted war.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said coalition forces had made progress in the war-torn country, having "denuded and degraded al Qaeda`s capacity" but cautioned against withdrawing too early.

In June, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australian troops would remain in Afghanistan until 2014 as planned despite the decision of the United States to bring 33,000 home next year.

In the 10 years since 9/11, Smith said Australia had become more prepared for extremist acts, responding to media reports that some AUD 30 billion had been spent on counter-terrorism in the period.

"When we are in the sure and certain knowledge that we`re in the face of an international terrorist threat it`s not the money that we spend -- it`s the preventative measures that we take, and the effectiveness of those measures," Smith told ABC television.

"It may well be a very large amount of money, the key thing is - are we better prepared, are we doing better, and has that money been well spent, and I think that we are much better prepared."

Bureau Report




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