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Europe

OSCE Approves “Anti-Terror” Declaration

Once upon a time, the United States could not have expected support from all members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact.

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US Secretary of State Colin Powell referred to "a new level of energy"

But that was before September 11.

Tuesday's joint declaration by foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe comes as little surprise, in this changed world.

Foreign ministers from the OSCE's 55 member states – which include the United States, all of Europe and the former Soviet Union – needed just half an hour to approve a document expressing their solidarity against terrorism.

"There must be no safe haven for those perpetrating, financing, harboring or otherwise supporting those responsible for such criminal acts," they said.

Striking a note of vague sympathy for armed struggles, they added that "there are various social, economic, political and other factors, including violent separatism, which engender conditions in which terrorists are able to recruit and win support."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who attended the OSCE conference in Bucharest, Romania, approved the document with his colleagues and thanked them for helping the "war on terrorism" to reach "a new level of energy".

But the OSCE declaration does not constitute binding international law, so Tuesday's agreement was mostly symbolic.

"Anti-terror" declarations have become an uncontroversial staple of diplomatic gatherings of all shapes and sizes, from the United Nations on down.

What sets this one apart is that the United States and its largest European allies are cooperating militarily as never before with former Soviet republics including Russia.

However symbolic, Tuesday’s declaration shows that this cooperation, still very new and mostly unchallenged in the Afghan desert, remains friendly.

But there are challenges ahead.

One is the dangerous "endgame" as U.S. military officials call it, in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar and in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Another is the conflict in the Middle East, which with the weekend’s suicide bombing attacks and ongoing Israeli retaliation, is increasingly hot.

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