G20 condemns “heinous” Paris attacks, vows to fight terrorism

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The Group of 20 leading world economies issued a strong condemnation Monday of recent “heinous” terrorist attacks and vowed to combat terrorism, as they wrapped up a two-day summit in Turkey that was overshadowed by the Paris attacks.

Near-simultaneous attacks on a concert venue, restaurants, bars and a national sports stadium in the French capital killed at least 129 and injured some 350. The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility.

Even before the Paris attacks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had put terrorism on the summit agenda. His country experienced the worst terrorist attack in its modern history when suicide bombers killed 100 in Ankara last month.

“We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the heinous terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November and in Ankara on 10 October. They are an unacceptable affront to all humanity,” the leaders said in their summit statement.

“We remain united in combatting terrorism,” they pledged, noting that terrorism must “not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.”

Among other things, leaders promised to clamp down on the channels by which terrorist groups and activities are financed, by exchanging information on suspicious transfers and freezing terrorist assets, while threatening “robust, targeted” sanctions.

“Terrorist networks must be hit in their pockets,” EU President Donald Tusk told his counterparts.

Countries must implement these measures over the “coming weeks and months,” said French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, noting that they had been drawn up in response to an earlier terrorist attack in Paris at the start of the year.

Other areas of focus include the use of technology such as the internet to incite and plan terrorist acts, and efforts to “strengthen global aviation security.”

The leaders also highlighted the threat of foreign terrorist fighters – people who travel to Syria to join extremist militia, and may return home radicalized – and promised to tackle it through better border management to detect suspect travel and by sharing more information.

In Brussels, EU foreign ministers Monday discussed recent diplomatic progress towards resolving the conflict in Syria, which has enabled Islamic State to gain a stronghold.

French secretary of state for European Affairs Harlem Desir called on the rest of Europe to respond with solidarity and determination to the terrorist threat.

“We have been hit together; we will respond together, and together we will vanquish the terrorism,” he said ahead of the meeting with his 27 EU counterparts.

France is part of an international coalition to oust Islamic State, and on Sunday carried out a series of air raids on its de-facto capital al-Raqqa in northern Syria.

“We are not going to be defeated by this evil. In fact we are going to stand together and defeat it,” added British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned against rash decisions, stressing that “the fight on terrorism cannot be won militarily,” and instead highlighting diplomatic efforts to end the civil war in Syria.

The conflict, which began more than four years ago, was also at the centre of discussions at the G20 summit. US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin broadly agreed in direct talks on Sunday to the outlines of a UN-led roadmap towards peace.

Syria’s civil war has triggered a refugee crisis in the region and beyond. Turkey alone has taken in more than 2.2 million Syrian refugees, while many have travelled on to Europe, which is contending with its largest migration flows since World War II.

The leaders called the refugee crisis a “global concern with major humanitarian, political, social and economic consequences, and called on “all states” to share the burden of resettling refugees, providing humanitarian aid and offering them services such as education and access to the job market.

The G20 is predominantly an economic forum, set up in the wake of the global financial crisis.

It comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

China will take over the G20 presidency from Turkey next year, and is hosting the summit in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

The 2017 presidency was awarded to Germany on Monday. Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was not yet clear when or where the summit would take place. Germany is holding federal elections in September 2017, meaning the summit will likely take place earlier in the year.

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