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Powell to join Europe terror summit

Powell will be in Europe for a week of meetings with OSCE and NATO leaders  

BUCHAREST, Romania -- On the eve of a visit by the U.S. secretary of state, Europe's leaders have vowed to stop terrorists from taking root in fledgling democracies.

Foreign ministers of the 55-nation Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) opened a two-day anti-terror conference with a call for more intervention in the Balkans and the former Soviet republics.

The group plans to adopt a resolution outlining its anti-terror action plan on Tuesday, when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to join the session.

Powell will be in Europe for a week of meetings, including sessions at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The U.S. State Department said Monday that Powell wants a Europe that is "whole, free and at peace."

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Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres also planned to be in Bucharest on Tuesday and was expected to meet with Powell and others.

Mircea Geoana, Romania's foreign minister and chairman of the OSCE, said the group's action plan would focus on "the political, social and economic inequalities that provide a fertile breeding ground for exploitation by extremists."

"We must pay close attention to the links between organised crime and terrorism, particularly the financing side," Geoana said.

Chris Patten, external relations commissioner for the European Union, agreed that the fight against terror had to address poverty and corruption exploited by extremists.

"Today's weak states can easily turn into tomorrow's failed states," he told the gathering. "They impoverish their people, but they nourish and enrich terrorists and organised crime. No wonder they attract them like flies around a carcass."

Patten did not identify specific states but said the EU planned to double aid to the central Asian region bordering Afghanistan.

There was "a new political climate" since the September 11 attacks, Geoana said, urging Europe to make the most of "the international partnership that was built after the tragic events in the United States."

"The global coalition against terror can mark a new era of cooperation," agreed German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, adding that the West was wrong to expect peace in the post-Cold War era without constantly working to secure it.

"Investments in peace are now more essential than ever in light of the threat from a murderous international terrorist network," he said. "That has to mean greater commitment to human rights and the construction of civil societies."

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the new anti-terror partnership between Moscow and Washington had strengthened the OSCE. Last year, disputes over references to Russia's war in Chechnya derailed the OSCE summit.

This week's OSCE meeting is being held in the former palace of the late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.


• U.S. State Department

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