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Protesters Clash With Police at International Security Conference


For the second day running, protesters and police have come to blows in the German city of Munich, where hundreds of top defense officials and politicians from around the world are meeting for the annual International Security Conference. The authorities' handling of the protests has already caused controversy.

Two-thousand protesters gathered in Munich's Marienplatz square Saturday, despite an official ban on demonstrations for the duration of the security conference, which lasts to Sunday.

They were there to protest, not only the presence of international security officials and NATO's security policy, but also the ban itself, which many believe is an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of assembly and free speech.

But scuffles soon broke out with the large numbers of police officers present. The police have tried to enforce the ban on protests by driving demonstrators away.

It may be a sign of worse to come. On Friday night, there were 333 arrests after clashes, which some observers reported, broke out only when the police waded in to clear the square of peaceful protesters.

One police official interviewed on TV said the police were determined to take a tough early line to avoid being seen as an easy touch for more violent protesters later on.

In the words of one, "There'll be no repeat of Genoa here." He was referring to the international conference last year, where clashes between police and protesters led to injuries and at least one death.

So far, at least, there have been no reports of injuries in Munich.

Meanwhile, at the conference itself, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called on moderate Muslim nations to join the international war on terrorism. He said the war can be won only if the hundreds-of-millions of moderate Muslims, including those in Arab countries, help fight it.

But Mr. Wolfowitz also warned that any country that tolerates or supports terrorism must be prepared to face the consequences.

But not every country is quite as ready for further action as the United States. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned against the arbitrary broadening of military action beyond Afghanistan. He said any further action must be in line with the goals and principles of the United Nations charter, as well as international law.

And with their eyes on a different battlefront, the Pakistani and Indian representatives attacked each other's policies over Kashmir, and each accused the other of not doing enough to reduce tension.

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