U.S., Italy Sign Pact to Jointly Fight Terrorism
The United States and Italy put aside their past differences over the Achille Lauro hijacking Tuesday to sign an agreement joining forces in the fight against international terrorism.
Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III and Italian Interior Minister Oscar Luigi Scalfaro signed the accord at the end of a two-day meeting of the Joint Italian-American Working Group to Combat Narcotics Trafficking and Organized Crime. The group, formed in October, 1984, meets twice a year.
Meese and Scalfaro told a news conference that FBI Director William H. Webster and Antonio Lattarulo, Scalfaro’s chief deputy, will head a subgroup on terrorism that “will meet as necessary to review issues.”
The agreement provides for “policy, procedure and doctrinal exchanges,” the sharing of intelligence and parallel training of personnel, Meese said. It also will make extradition of suspects and the transfer of evidence easier and faster between the two countries.
But it does not provide for a joint attack force or any other form of joint intervention, he said.
Meese and Scalfaro said there is proof that Syria is involved in international terrorism but gave no details. Libya has been similarly accused in the past.
“Without doubt, magistrates have taken concrete evidence that one of the sources of terrorism is also Syria,” Scalfaro said.
He said Britain has “indicated Syria is a definite source of terrorism and the data was confirmed on my last trip to Egypt.” Meese said the United States has the same information.
Referring to severe strains between Washington and Rome last October in the aftermath of the hijacking of the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro, Meese and Scalfaro said they made no attempt to judge the past.
Freed Abul Abbas
Over the strenuous objections of U.S. authorities, Italy let the accused mastermind of the hijacking, Palestine Liberation Front leader Abul Abbas, leave the country for lack of evidence.
Italian investigators later indicted him along with 14 other suspects in the hijacking and killing of passenger Leon Klinghoffer, 69, of New York. A Genoa court is trying Abul Abbas in absentia.