World Celebrates the New Year Amid Economic, Military Worries

Revelers thronged the streets of major world cities from Bangkok to Paris early Tuesday, welcoming 2002 as a year they hope will bring greater security and an end to last year's economic woes.

In Europe, where cold weather left many late-night party goers shivering, 12 countries used midnight to adopt the euro as their common currency, with lavish public ceremonies in cities such as Brussels and Frankfurt.

Lavish outdoor ceremonies, including fireworks and classical music, were held in cities such as Brussels and Frankfurt to mark the first time since the Roman Empire when western Europe will use the same currency.

In Australia, an estimated 1 million revelers ignored a shroud of acrid smoke over Sydney to throng the harbor for a New Year's fireworks celebration — billed as one of the world's largest pyrotechnic displays.

The festivities came as authorities continued to battle some of the most destructive bush fires the country has seen in decades.

In New York, huge crowds converged on Times Square to usher in 2002 and to pay tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

As they did so, an astronomer said that revelers in U.S. cities who ring in the New Year under a clear sky could see the planet Jupiter directly overhead at its brightest and closest point in many years.

In the Bahamas, bad weather turned out to be an obstacle.

Rain forced the postponement of parade by people dressed in costumes decorated with crepe paper, feathers and fur who had planned to march to the music of cowbells, goat-skinned drums, whistles and brass instruments.

Around the world, many people used the annual celebration to hope for less tragedy than they saw in the year 2001, especially the terrorism in the United States and the warfare it caused in Afghanistan.

In Tokyo, Buddhist priests in black robes rang temple bells and clasped their hands in prayer at midnight.

In England, the archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, said the deadly suicide hijackings had left people around the world feeling "weak and pretty powerless." But he also said the "heroic deeds" by the rescuers such as firefighters at the World Trade Center had shown everyone that "facing death, many spoke words of love."

Pope John Paul II, in his traditional New Year's Eve in Vatican City, prayed for the strength to continue in his papacy.

"I ask God for the strength to carry on, until He wants me to, in faithful service to the Church of Rome and to the entire world," said John Paul, who has struggled with health problems.

As the New Year began, the global war against terrorism led by the United States and Britain continued.

In the final hours of 2001, peacekeepers arrived in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, and India and Pakistan tried to avert war.

The search for accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and the Taliban forces that supported him also moved forward in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marines in combat gear took off by helicopter late Monday in the direction of the rugged mountains where the Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, was believed to be hiding.

Sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt greeted the arrival of 2002 in the middle of the Arabian Sea, finding time to celebrate even as U.S. fighter jets returned from missions related to the war on terrorism.

The party in the hangar deck — used at other times as an at-sea garage for warplanes, surveillance aircraft and helicopters — came as a relief for sailors who had been at sea for more than 100 days.

Meanwhile, tensions remained high between Afghanistan's nuclear-armed neighbors, Pakistan and India. New Delhi has blamed Islamabad for a terrorist attack on India's parliament building in December, which has brought the two archrivals to the brink of war.

India's prime minister offered to join Pakistan in fighting terrorism, but warned his own people in a New Year's Day message on Monday to be prepared for anything, including more terrorist strikes.

However, in many other parts of the world most people spent New Year's Eve trying hard to put these and other worries, such as a global economic slowdown, behind them, at least for a few hours.

Revelers thronged the streets and gathered with family and friends to celebrate in cities such as Bangkok and Jakarta in Asia, Berlin and Edinburgh in Europe, and Rio de Janeiro and New York in the Americas.

In Hong Kong, thousands of people got together for the countdown to the new year listening to live music in Times Square.

"I just want to enjoy the music. I don't worry about what will happen in 2002," said 20-year-old secretary Cathay Chan.

In Scotland, tens of thousands of people continued a four-day New Year's celebration by gathering outside Edinburgh's towering castle for concerts by rock 'n' roll groups and a large fireworks display.

In London, which also was suffering cold winter temperatures, many people defied a request by police to avoid meeting in Trafalgar Square, where authorities often have trouble controlling the rowdier celebrants.

Thousands gathered there to cheer in the New Year.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his people in a midnight address that despite the global slowdown, economic growth in 2001 proved that Russia's slowly rising prosperity isn't a fluke.

"The trend toward economic growth was preserved, and the life of our people got better," he said.