As his grand jury testimony dominated the airwaves Monday, President Clinton soldiered on with a U.N. speech urging a united international effort against terrorism, which he called a "threat to all humankind."
Looking haggard and tired, Clinton received sustained applause from standing world leaders and other delegates to the annual U.N. General Assembly as he walked out and sat in a high-backed leather chair before speaking. White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said Clinton was "quite moved" by the response.Stepping to the green marble podium, Clinton made a relatively short 21-minute speech urging nations to give terrorists no support, no sanctuary and no financial assistance.
He said they should sign a global anti-terrorism convention, raise international standards for airport security and promote stronger domestic laws against terrorism.
"Terror has become the world's problem," Clinton said.
He said his administration would submit to Congress this week legislation to improve the security at U.S. embassies worldwide in response to the Aug. 7 car bomb blasts at U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Aides said the request would be for $1.8 billion.
Clinton stressed the cause of the problem was not a conflict between Islam and the West, saying it was wrong of some to think "terrorism's principal fault line centers on an inevitable clash of civilizations."
"False prophets may use and abuse any religion to justify whatever political objectives they have, even cold-blooded murder," he said. "Some may have the world believe that almighty God himself, the merciful, grants a license to kill, but that is not our understanding of Islam."
He said Islam is one of the fastest-growing faiths in the United States and that the 6 million Americans who are Muslims" will tell you there is no inherent clash between Islam and America. Americans respect and honor Islam."
As Clinton spoke, most television networks were showing live coverage of his videotaped Aug. 17 grand jury testimony about his extramarital relationship with Monica Lewinsky and attempts to keep it from being discovered.
The contrast was unavoidable: one image of the president attempting to further U.S. objectives before the United Nations, the other of a man caught in an affair trying to explain his private behavior with a woman in her early 20s.
Lockhart said Clinton had not watched any of the videotape. At about the time the broadcast began, Clinton was meeting U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
His U.N. speech focused entirely on terrorism, a reaction to the twin terror bombings at U.S. embassies that prompted Clinton to launch cruise missile attacks Aug. 25 against suspected guerrilla camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that Washington believes produced a chemical used for nerve gas.