Source: Gulf Daily News
Date: January 06, 2004
TUNIS: Interior ministers from 21 Arab countries announced a new plan to combat terrorism yesterday, at the close of a two-day session here focused on stemming crime and insecurity in the Arab world. The final statement issued by the Arab interior ministers council gave no details about the plan, but said they "condemned the phenomenon of terrorism in all its forms".
It said, however, that it was necessary to make a distinction between terrorism and the legitimate right of people to "fight against occupation".
Officials yesterday stressed that anti-terror action was a top priority in the Arab world, with Tunisian Interior Minister Hedi M'Henni quoting President Zine el Abidine ben Ali as saying it had caused "huge damage to Islam".
The council called on member states to support their Iraqi and Palestinian counterparts, Nuri Badran and Hakam Balaawi, who were present at the meeting.
It also recommended giving financial aid to the Palestinian interior ministry to "compensate for losses caused by ferocious and continuing attacks by Israeli forces".
The council also adopted a plan to fight drug use, and prepared new legislation to battle cybercrime and to cut down the use of visas for travel and trade between their member states.
The council is a separate entity from the 22-member Arab League, which will also stage its annual summit in Tunis in March.