The foreign ministers of all but five nations in the Americas have signed a sweeping anti-terrorism treaty, nearly nine months after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.
The "Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism" was signed Monday at a summit of the 34-nation Organization of American States, held in the Caribbean nation of Barbados.
The document commits signatory nations to band together to prevent terrorist attacks and to cooperate in bringing perpetrators to justice. The treaty focuses on the financial dealings of terrorists with a special emphasis on detecting and uprooting money laundering schemes. To that end, signatories are to create financial intelligence units to monitor banking activities as a whole and international cash flows in particular. The assets of terrorist networks are to be frozen and seized.
The treaty also commits signatory nations to strengthen border controls, boost consultation and cooperation among law enforcement officials, and facilitate extradition of terrorist suspects.
Representing the United States, Secretary of State Colin Powell praised the treaty, saying the nations of the Americas are united in their resolve to fight terrorism and defend democracy.
Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and the Dominican Republic say they must alter domestic banking and other regulations before they are able to sign the treaty. Cuba is not an OAS member and did not take part in the summit.
In addition to terrorism, the foreign ministers addressed trade issues, the battle against drug-trafficking and political upheaval in Venezuela and Haiti.