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East African Nations Meet to Discuss Terrorism in Region

A three-day conference on combating terrorism in East Africa is underway in Sudan, with delegates from several East African nations and U.S. observers attending. The meeting follows a similar conference last year in Kenya.

A conference on combating terrorism in East Africa has begun in Sudan. Delegates from several East African nations including Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya met to discuss methods of combating terrorist activities and to pledge their support in the war on terror.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said the counterterrorism conference illustrates that East Africa has taken the problem of terrorism seriously, and seeks solutions to combat, what he called the "new phenomenon of terror."

"Terrorism grows wherever it finds fertile ground," he said. "The world has reacted and has united in order to defend the most vulnerable people in the war against global terrorism. But there is a need to find an accurate definition of terrorism, and to determine who, exactly, a terrorist is."

President Bashir pledged Sudanese support in the war on terror.

Sudan remains on the State Department list of state sponsors of terror. The State Department has noted improved Sudanese cooperation with anti-terror initiatives.

Concern over terrorism in East Africa has risen recently. Lawless nations such as Somalia are considered potential breeding grounds for terrorist training. Three of the suspected instigators of a failed July attack on London's mass transit system are from East African nations, Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

In November 2002, the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa killed 16.

The U.S. has considered East Africa a primary area of concern since the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Members of the terrorist group, al-Qaida, are believed responsible for the act, though no one has ever been brought to trial.

The three-day conference will continue in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, Thursday.