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francis at podium iran
Sen. Julian Francis has said some terrorists cannot be considered acceptable while others are jailed without trial. (Photo: SVG Embassy in Havana)

HAVANA, Cuba — St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) last month reaffirmed in Iran its belief that the world should be free from the scourge of terrorism and the fear it generates.

Senator Julian Francis reaffirmed Kingstown’s anti-terror stance as he addressed the first global conference against terrorism, according to media releases from the Vincentian embassy in Havana.

Francis told conference participants — representing 60 countries — that SVG, while small in physical size, is “large in the belief of a God of peace and our abhorrence of terrorism.

“Our government believes in a world of peace, a world where all its peoples can share the benefits of humanity’s progress in peace and harmony. We believe in the equality of all nations and in the protection of all its peoples from fear of terrorism,” the Transport and Works Minister added.

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He further said that the world has become one where there is fear all around, with global terrorism making travel and administering government more costly for all.

“And it is worst for small vulnerable states like ours.  It forces us to utilize finances that could otherwise be put toward programmes to combat poverty and toward educating and developing our nations instead of instituting elaborate and expensive security measures,” Francis said.

He also spoke of the invasion of personal privacy, especially for women,through thorough searches at air and sea ports and added that leisure travel is no longer fun

Francis, however, said that while the Caribbean is a zone of peace it has not been exempt from the reaches of terrorism.

He spoke of the Caribbean nationals who died when Cuban airline was blown out of the skies over Barbados in 1976, killing Guyanese students going back to university in Cuba along with members of the Cuban and North Korean fencing teams and other Cuban civilians.

“The acknowledged mastermind of this crime walks free about the streets of Miami after having escaped from justice in Venezuela which continues to ask for his extradition,” Francis said.

“Terrorism cannot have two faces.  Every victim of terrorism leaves behind a mother, a father, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters to mourn, to suffer their loss.  Some terrorists cannot be considered acceptable while others are accused and locked away without trial,” he added.

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“The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are a God-loving people.  We believe that peace can only come to mankind when all support for terrorists and terrorism is stopped,” Francis said.

Francis headed a four-member delegation to the summit. The other members were Dexter Rose, Vincentian ambassador to Havana and Tehran; Sehon Marshall, chairman of the National Telecommunications and Regulatory Commission; and, Joel Jack, who represented the religious community.

Francis held separate discussions with Iranian First Vice-President, Mohamed Reza Rahimi and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on a wide range of matters including collaboration in education, tourism, agriculture, medicine, and Iran’s continuing contribution toward the timely completion of the Argyle International Airport.

The conference heard addressed from the presidents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Kajikistan, Iraq, and Sudan; the prime minister of Pakistan, along with host President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There was also message from United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon.

Several Caribbean countries including Cuba, Venezuela, Antigua Barbuda, and Grenada all sent representatives at ministerial or diplomatic level to the meeting, which discussed ways in which the world can combat the scourge of terrorism.