USIS Washington 

25 September 1998


(International cooperation needed to combat threat) (1360)

By Judy Aita

USIA United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- A majority of heads of state and foreign ministers
joined with President Clinton at the 53rd General Assembly to
highlight the new national security threat of terrorism.

On September 21 Clinton urged the international community to put the
fight against terrorism at the top of the world's agenda.

Stressing that terrorism is not just an American problem, but an
international one affecting governments and peoples around the world,
Clinton said that terrorism is a new transnational threat and one of
the great security challenges of the next 20 years.

Clinton pressed the point that terrorism is not a form of legitimate
political expression nor an acceptable means to redress grievances.
Terrorism is "murder, pure and simple," he said.

As more than 100 heads of state and foreign ministers took the General
Assembly podium or addressed a ministerial level meeting of the
Security Council after Clinton's speech, terrorism remained in the
forefront. The overwhelming majority of officials from Suriname and
Chile to Mauritius, from Egypt to India highlighted terrorism's

They talked of the need for the international community to band
together to fight the barbaric crime and supported the call of
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the Non-aligned Summit in Durban
for an international conference in 1999 to develop a collective
response to terrorism. France proposed negotiations on a universal
convention against the financing of terrorism. Burkina Faso President
Blaise Compaore suggested a high-level conference on terrorism in the
year 2000 with regional preparations beginning next year.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said that the recently-adopted
convention on terrorist bombings is not enough. "We must give
ourselves the means of hunting down those who finance and commission
terrorist attacks," he said.

A financing treaty, Vedrine said, would "define concrete mechanisms
for penalties and mutual judicial assistance against those who finance
terrorism" such as the seizure or freezing of assets belonging to
organizations or individuals that have taken part in acts of terrorism
and eliminating bank secrecy in terrorist investigations.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said that terrorism is "one
threat that affects us all...It is the most vicious among
international crimes, the most pervasive, pernicious and ruthless
threat to the lives of men and women in open societies, and to
international peace and security."

Vajpayee urged that negotiations begin on an international convention
to provide for collective action against states and organizations
which "initiate or aid and abet terrorism."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also told the assembly that the
fight against terrorism has "taken on a new urgency" and offered, as
chairman of the G-8, to host a high-level conference in London later
this year to discuss ways to deny terrorists their funds.

"The past year's global roll call of terror includes Luxor,
Dar-es-Salaam, Nairobi, Omagh and many others," the prime minister
said. "Each one is a reminder that terrorism is a uniquely barbaric
and cowardly crime.

"Each one is a reminder that terrorists are no respecters of borders.
Each one is a reminder that terrorism must have no hiding place, no
opportunity to raise funds, and no let-up in our determination to
bring its perpetrators to justice," he said.

Blair said it is vital that all countries sign the several
international conventions that will ensure that terrorists have no
safe havens.

Argentine Foreign Minister Guido di Tella said that the "resurgence of
terrorist attacks comes as a harsh reminder that no state is immune to

He said his country "firmly supports the initiatives under way to
supplement, with new conventions, the network of anti-terrorism rules
now in force, leading to enhanced international cooperation and in
establishing the obligation of all states to bring justice and punish
those responsible for these acts."

Argentina is slated to host an inter-American conference on terrorism
in November.

Declaring that "Terrorism is surely one of the greatest challenges
that we face," Colombia's President Andres Pastrana Arango added,
"There can be no truce with terrorism. All states must stand
shoulder-to-shoulder to defeat it."

Saying that his country "absolutely rejects all forms of terrorism,"
Yemen's Deputy Prime Minister Abdulkader Abdulrahman Bajammal called
for "genuine cooperation to combat this phenomenon responsibly."

He said terrorism has become "an international phenomenon, and its
effects and repercussions are not confined to any one country, people
or ideology. There is a pressing need for the international community
to respond immediately to the demand to establish a political,
intellectual and institutional structure at international and regional
levels in order to combat and eradicate this phenomenon and to deal
with its negative consequences."

Bajammal added that his country "shares the feelings of every member
of the international community: fear and concern at the continuation
and increase of this inhuman phenomenon."

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Rashid Abdullah al-Noaimi said
that "from a standpoint of moral and humanitarian responsibility the
international community should intensify its efforts to protect
civilians and their rights and to confront the phenomenon of
terrorism, whatever its source or form may be."

Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas reiterated his government's
"condemnation of all acts and forms of terrorism wherever they may
occur and whoever perpetrates them" and urged all states "to enhance
international cooperation in the fight against terrorism."

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Roberto Rojas said that the international
community "must make special efforts to prevent and to eliminate
international terrorism." He, too, urged nations to sign the
convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings.

Sri Lanka President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said that the
adoption of the UN Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings
is "a considerable moral victory for the international community in
its fight against terrorism."

Kumaratunga, who has long been an advocate for concerted international
action to combat terrorism, warned that while legislation is being
enacted "we must be eternally vigilant to ensure that terrorists do
not find loopholes in our laws or use procedural delays to circumvent
the emerging international consensus against terrorism."

Describing the activities of the Tamil separatists (LTTE), Kumaratunga
said that the group "recruits children as young as 10 years and
indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, assassinates the elected
representatives of the people, including Tamil political and human
rights leaders, and destroys places of religious worship" yet is
permitted to operate freely in many countries.

The Sri Lankan president, who is also chairman of the South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), said that "moral and
legal sanctions against terrorists are not enough. Laws must be
effectively implemented."

She added only through "such concerted action would we be able to
ensure that terrorists are compelled to renounce violence and enter
the democratic process."

Condemning the Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam bombings, Ghana's President
Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings noted that terrorism has "tragic
consequences on the political stability as well as the economic and
social development of states."

Acts of terrorism, he said, "are totally unacceptable as a means of
seeking redress for any grievances, achieving political ends or
supporting a cause."

Welcoming the treaty on suppression of terrorist bombings, Zimbabwe
Foreign Minister I.S.G. Mudenge said that "the international community
had long witnessed how ill-equipped member states of the United
Nations have been in dealing with international terrorism."

In Africa, he noted, "the recent terrorist bombings of the United
States embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam, which together claimed
about 260 lives, brought home to us the vulnerability of developing
countries to the sophistication of modern terrorism."

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan said that his government
"unequivocally condemns all acts of terrorism as acts that have no
justification on political, ideological, ethnic, religious or any
other grounds."

Kocharyan called for the accession of all countries to universal
conventions against terrorism and supported Russia's proposal for a UN
convention for combating acts of nuclear terrorism.

"The recent terrorist attacks in Kenya and Tanzania once again show us
the necessity of cooperation among all countries to combat that evil,"
he said.