STRAW ON HOSTAGE TAKING IN BESLAN

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LONDON, September 2 (RIA Novosti's Alexander Smotrov) - The taking of hostages in the North Ossetian city of Beslan is a horrible reminder that terrorism is one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Thursday at London's Chatham House.

'I spoke to Sergei Lavrov about an hour before I came here and expressed our horror at what has happened and our solidarity with the Russian Government and people and with those children and their parents. I said to Mr Lavrov that of course they have good forces in the Russian Federation, but it went without saying that we would do everything we could. As Foreign Minister Lavrov said and as I heard on the radio that President Putin said, they are absolutely clear that the safety of those children is the paramount concern and I'm sure they will follow that.'

In his speech on the United Nations at Chatham House, Jack Straw said:

'The terrible siege at the school in Beslan, in the Russian Federation, shows again that terrorists are prepared to attack anyone, anywhere, without a shred of human compassion. The trauma for those poor innocent children is unspeakable, the anxiety for their parents unimaginable. Their suffering is our suffering. '

'The awesome responsibility of President Putin and his Government is our responsibility too: first, out of simple human compassion and natural solidarity with the Russian people, whose sacrifice in the second world war helped secure our peace and future as well as theirs; but also, because this barbarism unfolding across the world's television screens is a horrible reminder that international terrorism is a present danger to all of us, wherever we are.'

'The Security Council last night was therefore absolutely correct, in calling for the unconditional release of the hostages, to reaffirm that terrorism is one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,' said Mr. Straw.

The United Kingdom is ready to provide assistance for the liberation of hostages in North Ossetia, Mr. Straw said in a telephone conversation on Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"Referring to the position of Prime Minister Tony Blair, Jack Straw has expressed support for the Russian leadership in connection with the taking of hostages in North Ossetia and the British readiness to provide help in freeing them," reads the communique of the Press and Information Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry received by RIA Novosti.

"Sergei Lavrov has thanked his British opposite number for the gesture of support and the offer of help. He stressed that the Russian side is doing everything possible to liberate the people captured by terrorists," the communique goes on to read.

Sergei Lavrov has also received a message from Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi.

"I am shocked and indignant over the inhuman act in North Ossetia seizing a school and taking hostage children and their relatives. Accept my sincere condolences in connection with the death of people fallen victim during the incident," reads the Kawaguchi message. Its text was received by RIA Novosti from the Japanese embassy in Moscow.

The Japanese foreign minister noted that Japan "expresses serious support to the government of the Russian Federation and the people of Russia."

"I wish the hostages would be successfully liberated and this incident would be resolved as soon as possible," Ms. Kawaguchi stressed.

Turkey resolutely condemns the hostage taking in North Ossetia.

"We resolutely condemn this act of terrorism aimed against innocent people, with little children among them," stresses the communique of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

"Terrorism presents the greatest threat to international peace and security. Our country in no measure approves of and condemns any terrorist acts no matter why and for what they are arranged," the Turkish ForeignMinistry said.

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