WASHINGTON — Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is calling for an international coalition to stand with the United States in a sustained attack on terrorism.
"This is a threat that can be compared to nuclear catastrophe," Ivanov said Wednesday.
In Washington to lend Russia's support to the United States and to confer on anti-missile defenses and other issues between the two countries, Ivanov called international terrorism "an urgent challenge to all of international humanity."
"The problem of world terrorism cannot be solved by one-time actions," he said. "It cannot be solved with five warplanes with 10 warplanes.'
He said the nations of the world should work together, possibly under the auspices of the United Nations, to take such steps as ending the financing of terrorist groups and closing borders to their operatives.
"We are fighting a long fight against terrorism," he said. "We have no other choice but to fight terrorism together."
Ivanov was in Washington along with other world leaders as the Bush administration seeks support for what is looming as a possible U.S. military strike followed by a long-term campaign on economic, diplomatic and political fronts.
On Thursday, a key Arab country, Saudi Arabia, and an old friend, Britain, were moving into the spotlight.
The Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, was calling on President Bush at the White House, and Prime Minister Tony Blair was due there later in the day.
The Bush administration needs strong support from the Saudis to counter suspicions in the Arab world the U.S. offensive against Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks last week, reflects Anti-Muslim sentiment.
Britain, meanwhile, has joined in U.S. military operations against Iraq and is a strategic asset in the Persian Gulf region, which could be a staging area for a U.S. strike against Afghanistan, where the Taliban leaders have refused to expel bin Laden.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, meanwhile, is meeting with Louis Michel, the Belgian foreign minister, Javier Solana and Chris Patten, all of the European Union.
Ivanov said in a speech Wednesday that terrorism is an international problem, arising in the Balkans, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and it must be addressed on a global scale, probably through the United Nations.
"We can and must do a lot together," he said. Nations can try to end financing for terrorism groups and close their borders to terrorists.
But he clearly supported the United States in its determination to strike back for last week's attacks in New York and Washington.
"The evil will be punished. All Russia is with you," he said at dinner sponsored by the Nixon Center and the Moscow International Petroleum Club.
Earlier, in a meeting with Powell, the Russian minister said his government would not object to any U.S. efforts to seek anti-terrorism cooperation from the three former Soviet republics that border Afghanistan, a senior State Department official said Wednesday.
The commitment potentially could open the way for U.S. military cooperation with one or more of the three countries as the United States seeks ways to track down bin Laden and his allies in Afghanistan.