23 January 2004
U.S. Officials Outline Goals for Hemispheric Anti-Terrorism Meeting
Diplomats hail efforts of Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism
Washington -- Western Hemisphere leaders will look to intensify regional counter-terrorism cooperation at the Fourth Regular Session of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) scheduled to take place January 28-30 in Montevideo, Uruguay.
CICTE is an organization designed to meet hemispheric counter-terrorism commitments in practical ways, according to U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) John Maisto.
Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, CICTE "has established itself as one of the foremost regional anti-terrorism bodies in the world," Maisto said at a January 23 press briefing in Washington.
Maisto lauded CICTE's efforts as "multilateralism in action in a way that really deals with the issues of our time" and noted that CICTE has been recognized by the United Nations as a model. He suggested that the Montevideo meeting will allow hemispheric leaders to bolster and build upon previous counter-terrorism commitments.
At the Special Summit of the Americas held January 12-13 in Monterrey, Mexico, leaders of the Western Hemisphere's 34 democratic nations adopted a declaration agreeing to intensify efforts and strengthen cooperation to confront terrorism, Maisto said. He pointed out that in the declaration of Nuevo Leon, regional leaders reiterated their belief that terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction constitute grave threats to the hemisphere and further committed themselves to fighting all forms of transnational crime -- including trafficking in drugs, arms and persons.
The leaders in Monterrey, Maisto noted, also urged nations that have not done so to ratify the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism in addition to 12 United Nations conventions and protocols on terrorism and related instruments.
Also appearing at the January 23 briefing was Cofer Black, the State Department's coordinator for counter-terrorism, who will lead the U.S. delegation to the Montevideo conference. Black encouraged OAS member states to implement the counter-terrorism recommendations made in the Declaration on Security in the Americas, which was adopted in October 2003 at the OAS Special Conference on Security held in Mexico City.
Black noted that participants at the Mexico City conference identified the links between terrorism, arms trafficking, asset laundering, organized crime, and drug trafficking as threats to hemispheric security. The participating countries subsequently pledged to strengthen every state's capacity to prevent, punish, and eliminate terrorism, in part by cooperating to prosecute terrorists and deprive them of resources and safe havens.
In view of the many mandates emanating from various fora, Maisto said that CICTE is an "important tool" to facilitate compliance with all the hemispheric counterterrorism commitments.
To further bolster hemispheric counter-terrorism efforts, CICTE has also developed an ambitious program focused on strengthening border and financial controls and developing sound counter-terrorism legal regimes. Among the subjects of the upcoming session in Montevideo, Maisto and Black said, will be the inclusion of aviation, port and cyber security in CICTE's mandate -- and approval of a workplan to deal with all of these issues.
Maisto and Black confirmed that the United States is "fully invested" in the future development of CICTE, with Black adding that the United States is "committed to strengthening hemispheric political will on counter-terrorism cooperation through CICTE."
In addition to serving as an advocate for compliance with hemispheric counter-terrorism mandates, the United States strongly supports advancing CICTE as an effective technical body of counter-terrorism and homeland security experts, and as a capacity-building provider and information-sharing vehicle, according to Black.
In order to foster CICTE's development and enable it to better fulfill its mission, Black said, the United States hopes to announce its contribution to CICTE next week. He encouraged all OAS member states to also contribute staff and resources to strengthen CICTE and help the organization meet its goals.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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