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African Leaders Hold Anti-Terrorism Summit in Dakar - 2001-10-17

Some 30 African countries are holding an anti-terrorism summit in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. The African dignitaries plan to discuss a draft anti-terrorist pact proposed by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade after the September 11 attacks in the United States.

Ten heads of state, three vice presidents, three prime ministers and a number of other high ranking dignitaries were in attendance as the Senegalese president opened the one day summit.

A spokesman for President Wade, Cherif Elvire Seye, told VOA the proposed pact calls for appointing an African anti-terrorist coordinator, who would have a representative in every participating country. Mr. Seye said he does not know who might be named Africa's anti-terrorist chief.

President Wade has strongly condemned the September 11 attacks. He says the summit is necessary to help the continent better oppose terrorist activities. Africa experienced terrorism in 1998 in the form of deadly bombing attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed hundreds.

Commentators have also expressed concern that the current U.S.-led strikes on targets on Afghanistan might boost the popularity of suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden among radical Muslim militants in Africa. Mr. bin Laden is the main suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

But critics of the anti-terrorism summit say the meeting is not necessary, since most African states signed a regional convention on terrorism two years ago.