International reaction to the Counter-Terrorism International Conference that is taking place in Riyadh from February 5 to 8 has been extremely positive. Participating will be fifty-one countries in addition to Saudi Arabia and including fifteen from the Arab World; plus eleven international organizations, including Interpol, the G-8’s Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, and two delegations from the United Nations.
The four-day conference, to be inaugurated by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz at the newly-established King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh, is being organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It represents a serious international effort on the Kingdom's part to explore the multi-dimensional and trans-national problem of terrorism. The participants will examine not only the root causes of acts of terrorism, but any relationship to money laundering, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling. The ongoing workshops will provide opportunities for sharing experiences, and recommendations will be announced at the end of the conference.
It is generally agreed that terrorism is much more than a problem of security, and involves political, socio-economic and cultural issues. There has, however, been no firm definition of terrorism, and this promises to be a point of hot debate during the conference.
Praising Saudi Arabia for its initiative, British Ambassador Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles has commented on the importance of the conference: “First, because it is living proof that the struggle against terrorism and its causes is an international one, transcending countries and continents. Second, because it recognizes that terrorism cannot be cured by security measures alone. Third, because it recognizes the links between terrorism and other forms of transnational crime, such as drugs and arms smuggling, and money laundering."
French Ambassador Bernard Poletti has confirmed that a high-level delegation led by Gilles Leclair, head of the unit coordinating terrorism prevention at France’s Ministry of Interior, will participate in the conference, co-chairing one of the working groups. "Defining terrorism”, he declared, “is difficult. Social roots, education and poverty have either indirect or no links with terrorism. Quite wealthy and educated people often enter terrorist organizations."
Chinese Ambassador Wu Chunhua described terrorism as "the common enemy that threatens and destabilizes the international community", and confirmed that his country will send a seven-member delegation. “Both the symptoms and causes of terrorism should be addressed”, he said, “and especially, the hotbed fostering terrorism should be eliminated by solving the development issues and regional conflicts in the international arena."