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15 January 2003

Text: U.S. Customs Commissioner to Attend OAS Terrorism Conference

(Meeting will expand counterterrorism cooperation in Western
Hemisphere) (590)

U.S. Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner will head the U.S. delegation
to the Third Regular Session of the Inter-American Committee Against
Terrorism (CICTE) January 22-24 in El Salvador, according to a January
15 press release issued by the U.S. Customs Service.

CICTE is a technical body of the Organization of American States (OAS)
that works to foster multilateral cooperation to prevent, combat and
eliminate terrorism.

The CICTE conference agenda is designed to build on momentum created
by the June 2002 adoption of the Inter-American Convention Against
Terrorism. The meeting will expand cooperative counterterrorism
efforts in the hemisphere, the Customs Service said. The conference
will also yield formal counterterrorism recommendations to the Special
Conference on Hemispheric Security in May.

The United States will make a presentation on the increasing
importance of cyber security at the conference and is organizing
presentations on regional border security cooperation, the Customs
Service added.

Bonner's leadership of the U.S. delegation to the CICTE conference
reflects the United States' interest in developing a regional strategy
to improve border security and disrupt terrorist operations without
inhibiting legal trade and legitimate travel, Customs indicated.

Following is the text of the press release:

(begin text)

U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE
Washington, D.C.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

U.S. Customs Commissioner Bonner to Head U.S. Delegation to OAS
Conference on Terrorism

Washington, D.C. -- Customs Commissioner Robert C. Bonner will head
the U.S. delegation to the Third Regular Session of the Inter-American
Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), which will take place in El
Salvador January 22-24, 2003.

The conference agenda is designed to build on the momentum created by
the adoption in June 2002 of the Inter-American Convention Against
Terrorism, the first international legal instrument against terrorism
adopted since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The meeting will
expand the cooperative counterterrorism efforts undertaken thus far in
the hemisphere and result in formal recommendations on
counterterrorism issues to the Special Conference on Hemispheric
Security planned for May.

CICTE, currently chaired by the United States, is a technical body of
the Organization of American States, whose basic objective is to
foster multilateral cooperation in the form of training and
information sharing among member nations to prevent, combat and
eliminate terrorism. On January 22, heads of delegations will discuss
current and propose cooperative measures and emerging terrorist
threats. The discussion will shape CICTE's future counterterrorism
activities and programs.

The United States will make a presentation on cyber security as an
emerging threat and is organizing presentations on regional
cooperation involving border security. Commissioner Bonner's
participation as head of the delegation reflects the United States'
interest in developing a regional strategy to improve border security
and disrupt terrorist operations throughout the Hemisphere by
staunching illegal trafficking in weapons, narcotics, money, and
people - all without inhibiting free trade and legitimate travel. The
U.S. Customs Service also leads Operation Green Quest, the interagency
body created to investigate money laundering and terrorist financing
cases.

"CICTE is in the business of making the Hemisphere inhospitable to
terrorists who seek opportunities to advance their cause, and the
United States applauds it as an institution that will continue this
vital work," Commissioner Bonner said about the upcoming conference.
"Our cooperative efforts and investments to strengthen border
controls, financial controls and weapons controls do more than defend
ourselves against terrorists; they serve to reduce transnational crime
of all sorts."

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)