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Arab Officials Postpone Accord

January 5, 1998

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) _ Arab interior ministers approved an agreement Monday to fight terrorism and expressed concern about a surge in violence in the Middle East.

The ministers, however, postponed the final adoption of the accord, which calls for cooperation on the extradition of accused terrorists and criminals from one Arab country to another, to give justice ministers a chance to see it.

The proposed agreement also restricts Arab countries from harboring or providing financial help to groups that attack other nations in the region. Sudan, Syria, Libya and Iraq have been accused of supporting militant groups.

The document is expected to be adopted at a meeting of Arab interior ministers and justice ministers in Cairo next April.

The interior ministers from the 22-member Arab League opened their three-day conference Sunday aiming to expand cooperation in fighting terrorism after recent massacres by Muslim militants in Egypt and Algeria.

The interior ministers hope to boost cooperation with international police agencies, such as Interpol, and form a common policy to discourage Western countries from harboring Muslim militants.

The officials issued a statement Monday expressing ``profound worry″ about a renewal of terrorism and violence in the Arab world.

The conference opened five days after Muslim militants in Algeria killed 412 peasants in the worst massacre of the North African nation’s 6-year insurgency.

In Egypt, Muslim militants killed 58 tourists and four Egyptians on Nov. 17 in the deadliest attack of a 5-year-old insurgency, prompting a sharp drop in tourism.

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