Med nations forge anti-terror links

AGADIR, Morocco (AFP) – Foreign ministers from 11 countries on the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean reached agreement yesterday on steps to contend with international terrorism, officials said. The two-day meeting of countries in the Euro-Mediterranean Forum did not result in a formal statement, but Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said participants would introduce a code of practice for anti-terrorist measures. Papandreou stressed that his European and North African colleagues saw eye to eye on the need for an overall strategy, which would mean taking account of factors that give rise to terrorism. The conference, which brought six Western nations together with five Muslim countries, took place against the backdrop of war in Afghanistan and heightened violence in the Middle East. Increasing violence in the Middle East, while not directly related to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, played a major part in the talks, Papandreou said. The foreign ministers unanimously backed a UN Security Council appeal for the Israeli military immediately to withdraw from territories under full Palestinian control, he added. Reopening peace talks in the Middle East was an absolute necessity, Papandreou said, speaking as the forum’s current chairman. The forum comprises Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine suggested the meeting should be followed up by another one at which the ministers would attend each accompanied by two intellectuals from their respective countries. Papandreou said the idea was accepted and such a meeting would take place in Greece, though the date had not been fixed. However, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said it was unacceptable that Prodi had not traveled to the north of the island during his historic visit. Prodi refused to come to the Turkish Republic of Cyprus. The fact that he did not want to listen to the Turkish party is a unilateral and unacceptable attitude, Denktash told reporters in northern Nicosia after meeting with US State Department Cyprus coordinator Thomas Weston. The European Union must also listen to us, he said.

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