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WORLD REACTION

Published Aug. 20, 1991|Updated Oct. 13, 2005

1. UNITED STATES: President Bush on Monday called for the restoration of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's powers and urged those who ousted him not to use force against Gorbachev supporters. "This misguided and illegitimate effort bypasses both Soviet law and the will of the Soviet peoples," Bush said of the coup. The president, in a statement released Monday evening, said he supported the call by Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin for "restoration of the legally elected organs of power" in the Soviet Union. Bush said the United States would suspend U.S. aid to the Soviet Union _ at least temporarily. Bush planned to swear in Robert Strauss, the new U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, this morning. U.S. forces were not placed on heightened alert.2. CANADA: The government announced that it was freezing a $131-million program of food aid to the Soviet Union. "We have a government there that we do not recognize," Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said.

3. CHINA: The state news agency reported swiftly, but without comment, the ouster of Gorbachev, an architect of rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing. The New China News Agency broke the news Monday with a one-paragraph dispatch from Moscow, quoting Tass news agency. It followed up with a four-paragraph urgent report saying a state of emergency had been imposed. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.

4. ISRAEL: Israeli leaders on Monday said they hoped the coup wouldn't scuttle the Soviet Union's conciliatory Middle East policy or planned Arab-Israeli peace talks. "We are following the events in the Soviet Union in suspense and with concern," Foreign Minister David Levy said, adding that Israel did not want to see a return to the Cold War. The coup could derail plans for a resumption of full diplomatic ties between Israel and the Soviet Union. The Gorbachev government had said it would restore full diplomatic ties once Israel agreed, without conditions, to attend a Middle East peace conference. Also Monday, Israeli officials began planning for a possible sudden immigration of 60,000 Soviet Jews who have the papers necessary to leave the Soviet Union.

5. IRAQ: Iraq, which felt betrayed by its former ally's support for Washington in the Persian Gulf war, welcomed the removal of Gorbachev and pledged to respond positively to any overtures from the new Soviet leadership. A statement issued on Baghdad radio after a joint meeting headed by President Saddam Hussein of his Revolution Command Council and ruling Baath party said: "It is natural for us to welcome this change, as do the countries and nations that were hurt by the policies of the former regime. We hope that this change will contribute toward restoring the correct international balance to prevent hegemony and aggression on the rights of nations. Iraq will positively respond to every initiative of friendship from the Soviet Union in its new age."

6. CUBA: The Soviet prosecutor general, Nikolai Trubin, was quoted as saying that the coup would not affect Moscow's relations with Cuba and that existing agreements would be honored. But leaders of the Cuban exile community in Miami said Monday they feared that the coup might restore some military and economic strength to Cuban President Fidel Castro.

7. EL SALVADOR: The Soviet coup immediately raised concern over the future of the already lagging peace negotiations between leftist guerrillas and the government of President Alfredo Cristiani. "Obviously, this can affect our situation," said Ernesto Altschul, Cristiani's deputy chief of staff, "but it would be totally irresponsible for us to speculate on a fluid situation that is still developing." Altschul also said Salvadoran officials wondered whether the Soviet military takeover would revive the formerly close Soviet-Cuban ties. Cuba has been a supplier of the Salvadoran guerrilla front.

8. POLAND: Polish President Lech Walesa said the toppling of Gorbachev showed the continuing need for a strong U.S. military presence in Europe. Walesa's spokesman said the Polish leader told President Bush in a 20-minute telephone conversation that although Moscow did not pose a direct threat to Warsaw, further developments could not be predicted.

9. CZECHOSLOVAKIA: Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel expressed concern about the impact Gorbachev's departure would have on his fledgling democracy. "It's not possible to turn back the wheel of history," Havel said. "We are convinced that the developments on the road toward democracy are irrevocable, even in the Soviet Union, and that democratic forces will celebrate victory in the end." Noting, however, that the Soviet crisis came just before the Aug. 21 anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia 23 years ago, Havel warned that Eastern Europe should not "take the latest developments in the Soviet Union lightly and fall victim to any kind of illusion."

10. VATICAN CITY: Vatican officials on Monday worried that the coup could slow gains for religious freedom in the Soviet Union. The coup also appeared to put into doubt the possibility that Pope John Paul II would visit the Soviet Union next year. He had been invited to do so by Gorbachev. The pope, visiting in Hungary, made no immediate public comment on the news.

11. BRITAIN: Officials announced suspension of a $80-million in technical assistance for Moscow. Some senior British politicians demanded that planned defense cuts be put on hold until the Soviet situation becomes more clear. Denouncing the "hard-line and reactionary coup," Prime Minister John Major said the Soviet Union's future depends on continuing reforms. "It is in their interests to have reform and it is in the West's interest to see reforms," he said. "But the omens at the moment are not propitious."

12. FRANCE: President Francois Mitterrand warned the new Soviet leaders that "France sets a great value upon guarantees of the lives and liberty of Gorbachev and Yeltsin by the new leaders in the country."

13. GERMANY: About 1,000 Germans marched in Berlin on Monday to protest the Soviet coup, passing under the Brandenburg Gate, the most visible section of the remains of the Berlin Wall. They continued into formerly communist East Berlin, where they massed around the Soviet Embassy. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl warned Gorbachev's successors not to renege on Soviet commitments to withdraw nearly 300,000 of their remaining forces from Germany.

14. UNITED NATIONS: The secretary-general of the United Nations, Javier Perez de Cuellar, said he was ready to cut short his vacation in Portugal and expressed hope that events in Moscow "will not degenerate into a civil war" and that Moscow will respect the sovereignty and independence of the countries of Eastern Europe.

15. EUROPEAN COMMUNITY: EC foreign ministers scheduled a meeting today in the Netherlands to discuss a suspension of the community's $1.5-billion aid program to the Soviets. French and British officials said a summit of community leaders may be called to discuss the crisis.

16. NATO: Officials met in emergency session in Brussels to discuss the crisis. In particular, they expressed concern about the threat posed by the continuing presence of nearly 300,000 Soviet troops on German territory and the danger to European security if civil unrest breaks out in the Soviet Union. NATO planned a special meeting of the alliance's 16 foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, later in the week in Brussels, officials said.

_ Information from Scripps Howard News Service, Reuters, Cox News Service, Los Angeles Times and New York Times was used in this report.

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