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UN leaders urge unity in fighting terrorism

As General Assembly debate continues, leaders urge unity in fighting terrorism

Continuing the annual high-level debate of the United Nations General Assembly, world leaders today called for the strengthening of the fight against terrorism, but underscored the centrality of multilateralism and peaceful dialogue in such efforts.

Opening the morning session, President Emomali Rakhmonov noted that the people of Tajikistan won their independence and democracy through enormous suffering and deprivation. Peace prevailed in the country only after it was realized that national accord, as the primary goal of society, should take precedence over political ambitions and military confrontation, he said. "It would be more prudent to see a future Tajikistan as a developed democracy and a prospering secular state backed up by a solid civil society," Mr. Rakhmonov said. He added, however, that establishing a democracy should not be regarded as a simple process, but rather as a most complicated evolutionary one.

Mr. Rakhmonov said terrorism posed a threat to democracy, and noted Tajikistan’s active participation in efforts aimed at uprooting the threat. He stressed that terrorism would not be curbed only by military methods, as “dialogue is always more constructive than war. Dialogue conducted in all directions will liberate international relations from fear and mistrust. On religion, Mr. Rakhmonov said attempts to equate terrorism and extremism with Islam by the mass media, distorted the peaceful essence of Islam and presented the religion as a source of “evil and violence.”

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The vigilance of all UN Member States must be redoubled and the effectiveness of their counter-terrorism activities tripled, Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Cobourg Gotha said, reiterating calls to counter the threat. In addition, the Security Council's Counter-terrorism Committee (CTC) should work with regional and subregional organizations to ensure the efficacy of its work, he said. The Prime Minister also said all 12 major counter-terrorism conventions should be universally ratified and the root causes of the phenomenon addressed.

Mr. Saxe-Cobourg Gotha expressed his hope that the Council would recover its unity on Iraq, since ensuring the stability and prosperity of that country was in the interest of the entire international community. Also of concern was the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, he continued. He said the Palestinians must adhere to the obligation to stop suicide attacks while Israel must stop extra-judicial killings and renounce its decision to expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Turning to southeastern Europe and the situation in Kosovo, he reaffirmed Bulgaria's commitment to a multi-ethnic, democratic and prosperous Kosovo in which all religious monuments would be respected.

Reaffirming Colombia's commitment to fight terrorism until its final defeat, President Alvaro Uribe Velez also underscored his country's faith in multilateralism as the most effective means to seek peace and security as well as human, social and economic development. He said while the UN was irreplaceable, the Organization required constant revitalization in order to enhance its efficiency to face challenges such as terrorism. For Colombia, terrorism, the illicit drug trade and insecurity were all the same, he said, imploring the international community not to harbour the Colombian terrorists and to help the government confiscate their goods.

Terrorists had asserted their authority over some 1.2 million square kilometres of land in Colombia, of which about 400,000 square kilometres are jungle. Though the government had expanded efforts to place soldiers in many villages to provide security, hundreds of small towns were still in need of help, he said. Colombia's crime figures had also shown significant declines, but the numbers were nonetheless staggering, Mr. Uribe noted. He went on to say that homicides and massacres had also shown significant decreases, but Colombia would only claim victory when the attacks were completely eliminated.

Also taking part in the debate this morning was the Vice-President of Palau, Sandra Pierantozzi, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Laos, Samsavat Lengsavad, Norway, Jan Petersen, Uruguay, Didier Opertti Badán, and Brunei Darussalam, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah.

The Foreign Ministers of Belize, Godfrey Smith, Thailand, Surakiart Sathirathai and the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Choe Su Hon, also addressed the Assembly.

Speaking during the afternoon session were the Foreign Ministers of Bhutan, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, Chad, Nagoum Yamassoum, Togo, Biossey Kokou Tozoun, Namibia, Hidipo Hamutenya, Uzbekistan, Sodyq Safaev, Cambodia, Hor Namhong, Dominican Republic, Francisco Guerrero Prats, and São Tomé and Príncipe, Mateus Meira Rita.

Malawi's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Henry Chimunthu Banda, and the Chair of the Marshall Islands delegation, Alfred Capelle, also addressed the Assembly.

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