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Mediterranean Officials Countries Discuss Common Goals

Participants at the first international conference on the Mediterranean and the Middle East have underlined the need to strengthen cooperation to combat international terrorism and the various forms of illegal trafficking. The three-day conference is being held in Rome at the Center for High Defense Studies.

A three-day international conference on the Mediterranean and the Middle East opened Wednesday in Rome. Diplomats, military officials and academics came together for the first time to discuss common problems, which affect their areas.

The conference aims to bring as many countries as possible together to share their views and opinions at an informal level.

General Anselmo Donnari of the Center for High Defense Studies, which hosted the meeting, appeared satisfied with the results of the first day of meetings.

He says the first success was to bring to Rome 23 countries from the Mediterranean circle, including Adriatic ones, which until now have no similar forum that gathers them all.

That included Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, Balkan nations and those northern Africa.

General Donnari says they all unanimously recognized the strategic importance of the Mediterranean region. He says they expressed the hope that a free trade area would be created in the Mediterranean by 2010.

The general said all representatives agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism, gunrunning and illegal trafficking in drugs, human beings and art works.

He added that officials at the conference also underscored the need for a clear distinction to be made between Islam and the phenomenon of terrorism.