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World leaders to discuss fighting terror
( 2003-09-22 21:47) (Agencies)

World leaders must deal with the roots of terrorism if they are to fight it more effectively, Norway's prime minister said ahead of a gathering of heads of state to discuss stamping out the global threat.

The daylong summit Monday will bring together nearly 20 heads of state, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, counterterrorism experts and a handful of terror victims to New York to discuss the "roots of evil," and what lies behind terror.

Hours before the conference opened, a car bomber killed an Iraqi policeman and himself outside the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on Monday. The attack, which came as the United Nations considers expanding its role in Iraq, also injured 19 people, including two Iraqi U.N. workers.

The session, called "fighting terrorism for humanity," is the brainchild of Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor.

The meeting at a hotel near the United Nations takes place on the same day as a U.N. AIDS summit and a day before the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, which is expected to be dominated by Iraq.

"We have to deal with the roots and fanaticism behind terrorism in order to make the fight more effective," Bondevik, the conference chairman, told The Associated Press.

Attendants at the terrorism summit and the AIDS summit include the leaders of France, Spain, Italy, Norway, Canada, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Portugal, Brazil and Indonesia among others. Both Israel and the Palestinians are sending their foreign ministers.

President Bush was invited but the administration is sending Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., as its representative while Colin Powell will be three blocks away at the AIDS summit.

The lower-level U.S. presence at the terrorism conference was a disappointment for organizers though Bondevik expressed gratitude that Lugar would attend. The Norwegian premier has been anxious to quell concerns that an examination of the roots of terror is not meant to find excuses for such acts.

Still, "fighting terrorism should be about more than using your military and freezing finances," he said, alluding to the U.S. efforts.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov plans to challenge what Moscow calls Western "double standards" on terrorism at the conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said Monday.

Yakovenko did not elaborate, but Russia has often blasted Western countries for supporting the global fight against terror while condemning Moscow's war in Chechnya, where both Russian forces and rebels have been accused of brutalizing civilians.

Monday's conference is a followup on findings experts produced at a June meeting in Oslo outlining root causes, including a lack of democracy, failed or weak states, rapid modernization, extreme ideologies, political violence, inequality, corrupt governments, repression and discrimination.

Victims from the Bali bombings, the World Trade Center attacks and Spain's conflict with Basque separatists are among the list of speakers.

Bondevik said he hoped the gathering would "renew a commitment to the war on terrorism," an effort which has lost steam as the Iraq war and tensions it caused between the United States and its allies have taken center stage.

The Norwegian premier, who was against the war, said the conference would also discuss recent terrorist acts in Iraq, including the deadly bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad last month.

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