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Secretary General Gaviria, Chairman Monblatt, Excellencies and Heads of delegation, distinguished colleagues, friends.
In this gathering, the word "friends" has special meaning. I will never forget the outpouring of sympathy and support from my OAS colleagues in Lima on September 11, when we had gathered to approve the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
Nor will I -- or the American people -- forget how the OAS was the first international organization to condemn the terrorist attacks of September 11, or how the States Party to the Rio Treaty invoked its collective defense provisions.
Yet it is not tragedy, but unity, which has brought us together since September 11. Unity of values, unity of interests, unity of purpose.
When we met last September 21 to launch the hemisphere's campaign against terrorism, we agreed on the need to galvanize and strengthen the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism, CICTE. And, my friends, we have done just that.
The Second Regular Session of CICTE that began today shows how we are translating our spirit of cooperation and solidarity into practical action to fight the scourge of terrorism in our countries, in our hemisphere, and wherever its agents continue to operate.
The Plan of Action that you will adopt tomorrow is an ambitious program of concrete steps that we must all take multilaterally, bilaterally, and domestically. It is a tangible proof of our collective commitment to prevent, combat and eliminate terrorism.
On a global level, we have accomplished much since September 11. The United States and coalition forces have lifted the yoke of the Taliban regime from the backs of the Afghan people.
Al-Qaida and Taliban leaders are now either captured, killed or on the run. Countries around the world are ferreting out terrorist cells.
At the U.N., the nations of the world have pledged themselves to deny to terrorists the financing that allows them to commit their evil deeds.
But much remains to be done. Here in our home hemisphere, we can serve as a model to the world in our resolute response to see this campaign through to the end.
Tonight, with this reception, we are honoring CICTE for having taken up this burden.
CICTE stands as a model of multilateral cooperation to the rest of the world. Through CICTE, we have collectively said: "Our American family stands united against terrorism."
Thank you for your dedication and your commitment to this important work for the peoples of our hemisphere, and our world.
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