- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and the foreign ministers of 33 members of the Organization of American States (OAS) signed a new Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism yesterday in an effort to enhance security cooperation in the Western Hemisphere.
The convention, which was negotiated in response to the September 11 attacks in the United States, is designed to improve regional cooperation in cutting terrorist finances, improving border and customs controls, and investigating terrorist acts.
"The OAS has produced the first new international treaty since September 11 targeted at improving our ability to combat terrorism," Mr. Powell said at an OAS General Assembly meeting in Bridgetown, Barbados.
But he also called on the organization to "develop an inter-American declaration on hemispheric security, to be adopted at the special conference to be held on security."
He said that such a document "will represent our cooperative efforts to provide for our common security and to identify, prevent and remedy potential threats."
The OAS was the first international organization to condemn the attacks in New York and Washington, which occurred while Mr. Powell was meeting with foreign ministers of the member countries in Lima, Peru.
The secretary also urged his counterparts yesterday to keep free-trade negotiations on track so they can be concluded by a January 2005 deadline.
He said "special consideration" should be given to "small and less-developed states in the region to ensure that they have the capabilities to negotiate for the best interests of their peoples."
Mr. Powell said a three-year $5 billion fund, which President Bush announced in March to "reward nations that root out corruption, respect human rights and adhere to the rule of law," is likely to be extended, with an additional $5 billion every year.
The administration will ask Congress for those funds "in order to make infrastructure investments in those nations," Mr. Powell said, noting that he had found "great support" for the new account on Capitol Hill.
"We are now reaching out to the world community to get the best ideas on how to ensure that this new program achieves the greatest results on the ground, in truth and reality," he said.


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