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The meeting was called to order at 10.20 a.m.
Agenda item 166
Measures to eliminate international terrorism
Report of the Secretary-General (A/56/160 and Corr.1 and Add.1)
Mr. Kumalo (South Africa): The decision by the General Assembly to convene this important meeting in the aftermath of the recent horrific events in the United States of America is testimony to our collective determination to bring an immediate end to terrorism.
On behalf of the South African Government and people, I wish to extend again our sincerest condolences to the Government and people of the United States of America, and to other Governments and people directly affected by the tragic events of 11 September 2001.
As a result of these tragic events, President Thabo Mbeki and the South African cabinet issued a statement on 19 September 2001 reflecting the position of the South African Government, which I would like to read to you:
“First, South Africa condemns terrorism without any equivocation. Attacks against civilians cannot be justified. This approach is integral to the humanitarian values that inspired our struggle and governed its conduct. These principles inform the core values of our constitution.
“Secondly, South Africa will cooperate with all efforts to apprehend the culprits and bring them to book. Justice must be done and it must be seen to be done.
“Thirdly, South Africa therefore recognizes the right of the United States Government to track down the culprits and bring them to justice. Any action taken should be informed by thorough investigations and incontrovertible evidence.
“Fourthly, acts of vengeance or mobilization directed against individuals, communities or nations simply because of their faith, language or colour cannot be justified. They go against the humanitarian and civilized norms that the terrorists seek to undermine and destroy. They can, in fact, play into the hands of these wicked forces. Whatever the pain the world may be going through, we should avoid temptations of racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and any other forms of prejudice and discrimination that the recent World Conference against Racism so eloquently warned against.
“Fifthly, the world should unite in the fight against terrorism. In this effort, the immediate task is to ensure that the perpetrators meet their just desserts. In the medium term, the challenge is to understand the root causes of these despicable acts and to eradicate them worldwide.
“Sixthly, in the least, the terrorists should be isolated through international cooperation to build an equitable world order. This medium-term challenge includes concerted efforts to resolve conflicts in all parts of the globe, including the search for lasting peace in the Middle East. It includes a joint commitment throughout the world to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment.
Mr. Aboul Gheit (Egypt)(spoke in Arabic ): ...
Unambiguously, candidly, sincerely and without equivocation, I wish to stress that the question of Palestine is first among the political and humanitarian issues that must be at the centre of our efforts. That question must be settled in a fair manner that restores the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people. Let me add that the thinking among certain parties in Israel that there is now an opportunity to crush Palestinian resistance to occupation by taking advantage of the conditions now gripping the entire world is a grave mistake that would have incalculable implications and dire consequences.
The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.