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EU-Mediterranean anti-terror code backed

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Abbas and Blair, center, join other summit officials during a news conference Sunday in Barcelona.

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(CNN) -- The European Union and 10 mostly Muslim Mediterranean nations have agreed on an anti-terrorism document at the end of a two-day summit in Barcelona, officials say.

The last-minute agreement Monday on what is called the Code of Conduct to combat terrorism averted what some had predicted was to be a failure at the Euro-Mediterranean summit, already marked by the absence of nine top leaders, leaving nearly a third of the 35 nations attending without top representation.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, currently sitting in the rotating position of president of the 25-member European Union, said at the final news conference that even the Israeli and Palestinian delegations at the summit agreed to the anti-terrorism document, but that negotiating it had not been easy.

"What is developing is a clear, unified determination to stamp out terrorism in all its forms and a belief that terrorism is never a means to achieving justice, but always an obstacle to justice," Blair said.

But at the summit, held under tight security at a conference center on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea, the delegations appeared to skirt some tough questions in order to get a deal, some participants said.

Everyone in the end agreed to fight terrorism, but there was no broad agreement on what qualifies as terrorism and what doesn't.

Blair and other leaders said it's up to the United Nations, not the Euro-Mediterranean summit, to come up with a definition of terrorism.

The Code of Conduct document stated: "We (the delegations) confirm that we will: implement in full all (U.N.) Security Council resolutions addressing the issue of terrorism; condemn terrorism in all its manifestations without qualification; reject any attempts to associate terrorism with any nation, culture or religion, and prohibit and prevent the incitement of terrorist acts."

An EU aide told CNN that the agreement on the anti-terrorism document was "extremely good," but a diplomat also attending the summit said the document was watered-down after various compromises.

"How do you fight terrorism with this 'non-paper,' " said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of not being identified by name or delegation.

Delegation aides worked late into the night, Sunday into Monday morning, trying to get a deal, and the last-minute agreement pushed the summit past its scheduled closing deadline at midday Monday.

But the terrorism deal helped put a brighter ending on the summit that was marked by the absence of the nine key leaders. The absent included Israel's Ariel Sharon, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, the kings of Jordan and Morocco, the president of Algeria and even Germany's new chancellor, Angela Merkel, who left the summit early.

From the 10 Mediterranean rim states attending the summit, the only top leaders present were Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The summit also approved a five-year work plan for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation to boost political and security partnerships, economic development and reform and to address illegal immigration.

The EU in particular wants to promote legal migration of the mostly poorer workers from the Mediterranean countries, while seeking cooperation from the countries of origin to reduce illegal immigration.

The EU on average provides about 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion dollars) in loans and grants to the 10 Mediterranean rim nations that were present at the summit, an EU aide told CNN.

-- CNN Madrid bureau chief Al Goodman and CNN en Espanol journalist Pablo Herrera contributed to this report

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