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Africa, Arab defence ministers agree counter-terrorism cooperation

Egyptian Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi (L) and the Secretary General of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) Ibrahim Sani Abani attend the opening session of a conference for defence ministers and officials of the 27 members of CEN-SAD in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on March 24, 2016. The two-day meeting in Egypt will explore military and counter terrorism cooperation.  / AFP / KHALED DESOUKI

Egyptian Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi (L) and the Secretary General of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) Ibrahim Sani Abani attend the opening session of a conference for defence ministers and officials of the 27 members of CEN-SAD in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on March 24, 2016.<br />The two-day meeting in Egypt will explore military and counter terrorism cooperation.<br />/ AFP / KHALED DESOUKI

Defence ministers and officials from 27 Arab and African states on Friday agreed to bolster cooperation on counter-terrorism, in a meeting held at an Egyptian resort town.

The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) members agreed on “strengthening cooperation in counter-terrorism,” according to the draft resolution read out by Egypt’s Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi.

The resolution, which will presented to presidents of the member states, emphasised intelligence sharing and joint border patrols.

The ministers also agreed to set up “a counter-terrorism centre headquartered in Cairo,” Sobhi said as the two-day conference wrapped up in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Several of the bloc’s members, including Egypt, are locked in conflicts with jihadist groups who have killed thousands of people in attacks across the region and taken control of some territories.

“Terrorism and extremism presents a strong threat that has spread across all continents,” Sobhi said in a speech on the first day of the conference, after calling for a moment of silence for victims of attacks.

In Egypt alone, Islamist militants have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and bombed a plane carrying Russian tourists that had taken off from Sharm El-Sheikh in October, killing 224 people.

The conference is the fifth CEN-SAD defence ministers’ meeting since the bloc’s founding in 1998.

The group was founded in part to promote a free trade area among member states.



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