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SUMMIT FOCUSES ON TERROR : DHAHRAN BOMBING SPARKS ACTION PLAN.

Byline: Brian McGrory The Boston Globe

Leaders of the largest industrial nations Thursday night issued a strongly worded condemnation of terrorist acts and vowed to quickly adopt an international counterterrorism plan, giving renewed urgency to a problem that President Clinton described as ``one of the great burdens of the modern world.''

The actions were announced at the close of a dinner among world leaders on the first day of the G-7 summit and just a few hours after the flag-draped caskets carrying the bodies of 19 Americans killed in a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

``We have once again stood united against terrorism,'' said Clinton, appearing grim-faced after the dinner, accompanied by French President Jacques Chirac. ``We understand that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and none of us are invulnerable.''

While the condemnation of terrorism is not surprising in itself, the fact that the leaders of the seven largest industrial nations agreed to place the subject at the top of their agenda, bumping long-awaited trade issues, was a sign of how serious they consider the threat to be. In addition, the leaders scheduled a conference of terrorism experts in Paris for next month.

``We consider the fight against terrorism to be our absolute priority,'' the leaders said in a four-paragraph declaration issued late Thursday night.

Beginning today, the leaders will begin considering a previously authored 40-point anti-crime proposal that U.S. officials have been tailoring to make a counterterrorism plan. The proposals will address witness protection, money laundering and illegal currency transactions, the illegal weapons trade and border protection, and will call on nations to share bomb detection equipment with lesser-developed countries.

``As we become more open, as our borders become freer to cross, as we can move information and money and people and material across national boundaries more quickly, we all become more vulnerable to terrorists,'' Clinton said.

The announcements ended a day in which Clinton rallied his fellow world leaders to immediately take up the cause of terrorism, in the wake of the bombing of the U.S. military installation near Dhahran.

As Clinton traversed the geographical and diplomatic terrain here, giving a speech in a French village, sitting in bilateral meetings with world leaders and attending the state dinner at the elegant City Hall building, a military transport plane carried the bodies of the 19 dead Americans to Dover. Clinton, curtailing a scheduled weekend stay in Paris, plans to attend two memorial services for the victims Sunday, at Eglin and Patrick air force bases in Florida.

On Thursday morning, appearing subdued and even distant, Clinton stopped in the medieval hillside village of Perouges - liberated by American GIs in 1944 - to lobby his counterparts at the annual G-7 economic summit to take up the cause.

``I expect the G-7 nations to adopt 40 very specific recommendations to combat crime and terror, to increase our efforts to prevent terrorists from committing their crimes and our ability to track, catch and punish them when they do,'' Clinton said. ``The future of the children here depends upon our success in this effort.''

By successfully pushing his terrorism proposals, Clinton effectively dominated the early agenda of the three-day summit, drawing some low-key grousing from the other delegations while relegating many of the anticipated complaints over U.S. trade policies to secondary status.

During an afternoon of bilateral meetings, first with Chirac, then with British Prime Minister John Major and finally with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Clinton accepted condolences and solicited promises of help in fighting terrorists.

``I just want to say to the American press how deeply horrified the French people were at this barbaric act that has been perpetrated in Saudi Arabia,'' said Chirac, at a photo opportunity prior to the bilateral meeting.

Said Hashimoto: ``We must make utmost efforts to eliminate terrorism. It's our common enemy. We will support the president as much as possible with our utmost might.''

Canadian officials, meanwhile, urged world leaders to share more intelligence to combat terrorism.

``There is a major opportunity for intelligence sharing in these matters,'' said Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy. ``We can have much more coordinated international activity in these areas. People are moved, money is moved, weapons are moved across borders. People use false passports, use sanctuary rules.''

In Perouges, a walled village that dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, Clinton stood in the cobblestone town square, surrounded by stone buildings with shuttered windows and baskets of flowers that rustled in the idyllic spring breeze. Schoolchildren waved French flags and pressed against the barricades.

Clinton pointed to the linden tree in the town square, planted in 1792 just after the French Revolution and ever since known as the ``Tree of Liberty,'' and said it would serve as a symbol for new world efforts against terrorism.

``Today's threats to the liberty your tree symbolizes are very different from those of 200 years ago, different from the threats of World War II or the Cold War, but they are real, and we must face them,'' Clinton said. ``We must face them so that the children here today will enter the 21st century free and secure, with the greatest opportunity to live out their dreams of any generation in human history.''

Clinton repeated his vow that the killers would be caught, saying: ``We will not rest in our efforts to discover who is responsible, to track them down and to bring them to justice.'' But later in the day, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, arriving here from the bombing site near Dhahran, indicated that little headway had been made in the investigation.

Asked about the previously unknown groups who have claimed responsibility in the blast, Christopher said, ``Where terrorism is concerned, first guesses usually are wrong.''

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1 -- color) In Perouges, France, President Clinto n pauses in silence to honor the 19 Americans killed in Saudi Arabia.

(2) Leaders of top industrialized nations meet Thursday in Lyon, France, before the G-7 summit's opening session. Clockwise from President Clinton, with back toward the camera, are Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan, Romano Prodi of Italy, Helmut Kohl of Germany, Jacques Chirac of France, John Major of Britain, Jacques Santer of the European Union and Jean Chretien of Canada.

Associated Press
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 28, 1996
Words:1056
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