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Gulf Nations Pledge to Combat Terror

Officials at regional summit also praise the U.S. for its plan for Iraqi sovereignty.

December 23, 2003|From Associated Press

KUWAIT CITY — Leaders of Arab countries in the Persian Gulf agreed Monday to form a pact to combat terrorism and praised Washington for planning to transfer power to Iraqis by mid-2004.

Officials from the six Gulf Cooperation Council states -- Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates -- ended a two-day summit with the agreement.

Council Secretary-General Abdulrahman Attiyah said the pact would be a "big achievement that will benefit the Gulf and the whole world."

Officials did not provide details or say when the pact would be finished. Details will probably be made public in Kuwait when it is deliberated by lawmakers.

But the council said members of the political and economic alliance "support every international measure to fight terrorism and cut the sources of its finances." The United States accuses many Arab charitable organizations of feeding terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.

The summit opened Sunday with Kuwait's prime minister, Sheik Sabah al Ahmed al Jabbar al Sabah, saying terrorism is "among the most grave dangers and challenges" facing the region.

Suicide bombers have killed 52 people and wounded more than 100 in attacks in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, since May 12. Islamic militants have also killed one U.S. Marine and an American civilian in Kuwait, a U.S. ally, since October 2002.

The Persian Gulf states also complimented Washington for planning to "accelerate the transfer of power to Iraqis," describing it as "a positive step in the right direction."

However, they urged occupation forces to "take up their responsibilities ... in safeguarding security and stability in Iraq."

Attiyah said the council "strongly condemns the terrorist bombings that targeted civilians, aid and international organizations and diplomatic missions working in Iraq." It did not mention the frequent attacks on U.S. forces.

The leaders also said they were committed to a policy of noninterference in Iraq's internal affairs and they urged others to do the same.

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