________________________________________________________________________ Arab states unite against Islamist terror campaigns Copyright ) 1998 Nando.net Copyright ) 1998 Reuters TUNIS (January 5, 1998 12:18 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - Interior ministers from 20 Arab countries Monday agreed to increase cooperation to fight "terrorism," a term they generally use to describe Muslim fundamentalist violence. An official statement, issued after a two-day meeting, said the ministers also urged "foreign states" to cooperate with Arab security services and legal bodies to help end the violence. This should include handing over wanted criminals, it said. "The Arab states reject terrorism in all its forms and from whatever source ... and there is no room for anarchy and instability," Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, chairman of the Arab Interior Ministers Council, said at the closing session. "The ministers have approved the draft for an Arab accord to fight terrorism," the meeting's final statement said. The approval concludes a process that started in 1992 when Arab states, alarmed by the rise of Muslim fundamentalist violence, started discussing closer cooperation. They were particularly spurred on by Algeria and Egypt, two of the countries worst hit by violence. The text of the draft agreement was not released. But the statement said it "aims at reinforcing controls to prevent infiltration of terrorist elements through borders and entry points to the Arab states, and facilitate procedures for the handing over of those accused of or tried for crimes of terrorism." Arab interior and justice ministers will sign the agreement in Cairo, Egypt, in April, the statement said. The ministers, in a separate statement proposed by Egyptian Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Habib el-Adli, condemned what they called "intensification of terrorist and violent attacks," without naming the countries where they occurred. Thirty-five civilians were killed in weekend attacks in Algeria where government troops were hunting the killers of more than 400 villagers which Algerian media said were killed in the Relizane region last week. Algerian Interior Minister Mustapha Benmansour Sunday denied the Relizane toll, and put it at 78. About 65,000 people have been killed in Algeria since violence broke out in early 1992 after the authorities scrapped a general election dominated by Islamic fundamentalists. Benmansour told his Arab colleagues that the phenomenon would not have developed without the leniency of unnamed countries which, he charged, did not wish "to see our Arab world stabilize." The ministers' meeting took added importance, coming just weeks after Muslim militants killed 58 foreign tourists in Luxor, Egypt, in November. "We affirm that the Arab efforts to fight terrorism will be useless if terrorism finds a hole through which it can go into some countries," the Egyptian minister told the meeting. "The heads of terrorism are abroad where they enjoy security and a clear protection from the states who harbor them and give them refuge and freedom of movement to plan and finance," he said.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 12:59:05 PDT