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Egypt Calls for Anti-Terrorism Convention - 2001-09-20

There has been a whirlwind of political activity within the Arab world following last week's terrorist attacks in the United States. Egyptian officials say the activity is aimed at building an Arab alliance that can respond effectively to the violence.

Earlier this week Jordan's King Abdullah, Syria's Bashar el-Assad, Oman's Sultan Qaboos and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat came to Egypt for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

In an interview with VOA, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher says the meetings are a sign the Arab world is trying to take unified action in response to last week's terrorist attacks.

Mr. Maher said Egypt is fully cooperating with Washington in the U.S. investigation. "There is an exchange of information. They have asked us about certain individuals and we provided the information we have about these individuals," Mr. Maher says. "So there is a very close cooperation between [us] and the United States, and we hope that other countries are cooperating with each other in the same manner that we are cooperating with the United States."

The foreign minister went on to say Egypt believes any response from the United States will fall under the guidelines of international law. "I believe any action should be based on irrefutable evidence, on an investigation," he says. "And the investigation just got started. You do not expect an investigation to end in a few days. So, we are sure that the United States will not act hastily or harshly and it will act in conformity with the international law."

Mr. Maher said Egypt is calling for an international convention on guidelines and responsibilities in the fight against terrorism. Although he gave no details of what the guidelines might be, he said those countries that wished to sign the agreement would be encouraged to do so. Those that did not sign, he said, would face international isolation.