Boris Johnson has said the deadly shooting at a shopping center in southern Germany “proves” that terrorism is a “global sickness”.
Speaking for the first time as UK foreign secretary after what is likely to be named a terrorist attack, Mr Johnson said he had reaffirmed the UK’s intention to “step up” in the fight against extremists.
“[UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon] agrees that tackling radicalization and extremism is at the forefront of UN activity,” he told the crowd at the United Nations building in Manhattan.
Referring to the UK’s role, he said: “Clearly, we need to step that up.”
Although Mr Johnson has been heavily criticized, even mocked, by voters and politicians for his new position in the UK cabinet, his speech on Friday was his first serious test as foreign secretary.
“It seems very likely [Munich is] another terrorist incident and it proves once again that we have a global phenomenon and a global sickness that we have to tackle,” he said.
His remarks come the same day that the police are searching for three gunmen who they claim could be responsible for opening fire outside the Olympia shopping center in the north-west of Munich. The death toll has risen to nine and at least 10 more people are wounded.
Mr Johnson added that the counter-terrorism coalition in the US, which he attended along with 40 other foreign ministers this week in Washington DC, needs to tackle the issue “globally” and deal with both the symptoms and the process of radicalization.
Pressed on the specifics as to how that would be achieved, he replied that the question was “profoundly important” but offered little concrete detail.
“We have to ask ourselves, what is going on? How is the switch being thrown in the minds of these people?” he replied.
“I am hearted to hear Mr Ban Ki-moon wants to focus on that work.”
He added that terrorism is also prevalent in Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia – all countries, he said, where the UK is playing an important role in diplomacy and peace-keeping.
“Mr Ban Ki-moon says the UK should play an even greater role through the UN,” said Mr Johnson.
“He referred to that several times and I was glad to reaffirm our commitment to do that.”