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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 November 2005, 16:28 GMT
Summit vows firm line on terror
Commonwealth leaders at the final session of their summit
The Commonwealth summit yielded several strong declarations
Commonwealth leaders have ended a three day summit with a strong declaration against terrorism.

Terrorism in all its forms cannot be justified by any cause of grievance, the 53-nation group declared in its final statement.

But international anti-terror efforts must be carried out with proper respect for human rights, the document said.

The Commonwealth secretary repeated a call for the European Union to make concessions over farming subsidies.

Don McKinnon warned the EU that forthcoming trade negotiations in Hong Kong are a "once in a lifetime opportunity" that should not be squandered.

Too many people [are] running around Brussels and Geneva saying to the developing countries you must lower your expectations
Secretary General Don McKinnon
On Saturday the leaders agreed a declaration on multilateral trade issues calling for a deal on trade subsidies at World Trade Organisation talks in Hong Kong next month.

WTO members should commit to scrapping export subsidies by 2010, the Commonwealth agreed, urging the EU to do a deal to avoid scuppering the talks.

The BBC's Nick Childs in Malta - where the Commonwealth meeting took place - says the statement has been the centrepiece of the summit, and leaders have issued a separate call for international help for vulnerable smaller states.

The Commonwealth clearly believes it has a particular role in giving small countries a bigger international voice, he adds.

The group's 53 members form one-third of the membership of the WTO and about 30% of world trade.

Rights and wrongs

In their final statement, leaders attending the meeting agreed that "dialogue, tolerance and understanding among civilisations" are key factors in the global fight against terror.

UK PM Tony Blair (l) and Commonwealth head Don McKinnon
Tony Blair and Don McKinnon have both pushed hard on trade
They highlighted economic development and good governance as essential elements in the tackling of insecurity and conflict.

And they called for greater co-operation, openness and determination among nations not to allow extremists to plan or finance terrorist attacks from within their borders.

But the statement was clear on the limits of acceptable behaviour.

"States must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, in particular human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law," it read.

Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi insisted that this caveat was not directed at any specific country, such as the US, which has been criticised for its treatment of terror suspects.

'Not enough ambition'

The importance of striving for a deal on trade reform at the Hong Kong talks emerged as a key theme of the summit.

Rich nations were urged to "give more than they receive" in an effort to broker a deal in Hong Kong, especially over agriculture and market access.

Singling out the EU at the close of the summit, Mr McKinnon told the BBC he sensed that ambition was waning among some key players.

"[There are] too many people running around Brussels and Geneva saying to the developing countries you must lower your expectations," he said.

Developing nations were told 10 years ago that the trade talks climaxing in Hong Kong were their best hope of a deal to change the rules of world trade and allow them easier access to global markets, Mr McKinnon said.

Developing nations were also asked to be flexible when they arrive in Hong Kong.

But Mr McKinnon added: "Here we are on the eve of the finality of the next round and they still don't see very much on the table.

"The key right now is in the European Union."

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