World leaders gather for anti-terror summit

7th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

7 March 2005, MADRID - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will join a cast of VIP visitors at an international anti-terrorism summit here coinciding with the first anniversary of the Madrid train bombings in which 191 people were killed.

7 March 2005

MADRID - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will join a cast of VIP visitors at an international anti-terrorism summit here coinciding with the first anniversary of the Madrid train bombings in which 191 people were killed.

The conference, seeking a democratic response to the problem of terrorism, will be attended by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso and former US president Bill Clinton.

It will bring together some 200 experts from 55 countries, including former heads of government, working behind closed doors to draw up a framework designed to counter the kind of terrorism which shocked Spain 12 months ago.

Despite decades of experience in dealing with the violence of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, initially blamed for the 11 March bombings, Spain was rocked by the worst-ever attack on its territory which also saw almost 2,000 injured in coordinated attacks on four subway trains.

With the United States, stunned by the 9/11 attacks, having declared an international war on terror but losing much international support over its invasion of Iraq, the conference will urge a coordinated political response to the threat.

Its proclaimed objectives are promotion "of a world founded on democratic values and committed to effective co-operation in the fight against terrorism," with all sectors of society involved from world leaders to ordinary citizens.

"The result will be an innovative plan of action-The Madrid Agenda-that strives to bring together the worlds nations to develop a common strategy for confronting terrorism in all its forms through democratic means," said the organisers.

Spanish Crown Prince Felipe will open the gathering, whose participants include EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries.

The meeting was organised by the non-partisan Club of Madrid, which brings together 44 former heads of government to strengthen global democracy. Spain's King Juan Carlos will close the summit Thursday evening.

The three days of debate will cover four themes: firstly, the underlying causes of terrorism, secondly, how to confront the terrorist issue, thirdly, the search for a democratic response and finally the role of civil society in moving towards that response.

The summit's conclusions will then be written into an Agenda of Madrid, marking the first anniversary of the Madrid bombings.

Participants will next Friday evening attend a commemorative service in Madrid Cathedral for the victims of the 11 March blasts, allegedly carried out by mainly Moroccan Islamic fundamentalists.

In view of the prevalence of alleged Moroccan involvement and Morocco's own suffering in extremist attacks in the city of Casablanca in May, 2003, Moroccan King Mohamed VI will attend the Friday commemoration to show solidarity with the victims and with Spain.

"The King's trip shows the importance Morocco affords to relations with Spain and to commemorating this sad anniversary," said Omar Aziman, the Moroccan ambassador to Madrid, in a statement last week.

"His Majesty will make it clear that both (our) peoples are victims of terrorism and both will confront it together."

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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