Australia closed its embassy in the Philippines and placed round-the-clock security on national icons amid heightened terrorist threats
Monday, December 2, 2002. Posted: 07:53:40 (AEDT)
Asian neighbours condemn Howard's first strike speech
Governments in South East Asia have been quick to condemn Prime Minister John Howard's statement that he would be willing to order a pre-emptive strike to stop a terrorist attack against Australia.
On television yesterday Mr Howard said any prime minister who had the capacity to prevent an attack against Australia would be failing the most basic test of office if he did not use it, as long as there was no alternative.
In response, a spokesman for Indonesia's foreign ministry said Australia did not have the right to launch military strikes in other countries.
He said states "can't flout international law and norms willy-nilly".
A spokesman for the Thai Government said no country should do anything like Mr Howard suggested. Each country had its own sovereignty that must be protected, he said.
The Philippines national security adviser Roilo Golez said Mr Howard's comments were completely unacceptable.
"That's a very surprising statement, to say the least, in fact bordering on shocking," Mr Golez said.
"I can't believe that it would come from a supposed friendly country in the neighbourhood. You are talking about a region with very strong government, the ASEAN region.
"This is the 21st century, not the 19th century."