Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, officially opened the Euro-Mediterranean Formentor Forum yesterday with a harsh warning for the international community. Mubarak, the guest of honour at this year's forum sponsored by Repsol, warned that the international community is running the risk of cultivating a new generation of terrorists worse than the present if peace is not established in the Middle East. Mubarak told the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, that he hopes to see Spain playing a vital supporting role as President of the European Union next year as the peace process reaches a critical and delicate stage. Mubarak said that it would be a mistake to blame the September 11 attacks on the difficulties in the Middle East peace process or on the absolute support the United States provides Israel. But Mubarak stressed that the recent absence of an active international hand in the peace process, for one reason or another, has created hostile public opinion to the process in Arab countries, especially when Arab leaders have opted for peace as a strategic option while Israeli policy is against peace. The Egyptian leader told both the Palestinians and the Israelis meaning and audacity is needed to get out of this violent circle and start moving towards political negotiation which is the only way of obtaining security and guaranteeing peace and stability. Mubarak recommended that, as a result of the September 11 attacks, the international community should agree to attend an international anti-terrorism conference, sponsored by the United Nations, in Egypt. He also called on the international community to agree on a clear definition of terrorism and clear action that should be taken against those who fund terrorism and those who provide refuge for terrorists. Mubarak stressed the need for steps to be taken against the Israelis, who he suggested are using the current international crisis to humiliate the Palestinians. With relations as strained as ever between Israel and Palestine, the atmosphere at the start of the forum yesterday was cold. Spanish government sources said that when Aznar sat down with Mubarak, Arafat and Peres, he pointed out to the table that all four of them have been targets of assassination attempts - and should therefore be able to talk as friends. The forum continues today with a full day of talks and meetings. This morning Yasser Arafat will give a 30 minute address and is expected to use that time to explain what a Palestinian State would involve and why the international community should support such a move. Arafat will be followed by Shimon Peres who will give his opinion of the current situation in the Middle East, and may even unveil his new peace initiative which was only completed within the last few days. Expectations are high and the world's media has its eye firmly fixed on Majorca and what Arafat and Peres will say this morning.
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