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Friday, August 18, 2006

Anti-terror cooperation pact signed by France and Britain

PARIS, Aug 17, 2006 (AFP) - The interior ministers of France and Britain on Wednesday signed a text pledging cooperation between their countries in the fight against terrorist activity in Europe.

The threat of terrorism is "heightened and permanent" said the French text of the agreement signed by France's Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy and his British counterpart, Home Secretary John Reid.

They agreed their efforts should aim to prevent terror attacks and protect the public, as well as pursue and arrest terrorists.

The agreement, a copy of which was obtained by AFP ahead of publication in French daily Le Figaro, followed talks by European Union ministers in London, where an alleged plot to bomb US-bound airliners was foiled last week.

Britain and France pledged to cooperate to prevent "radicalisation and recruitment" of potential terrorists and to ensure that their police and judiciaries work efficiently to stop terrorists finding refuge in Europe after committing attacks.

One concrete proposal in the text is to step up research for technology to detect liquid explosives, which the suspected plotters were allegedly planning to smuggle on board airliners and detonate in midflight.

The ministers' text said, however, that they did not wish to give the impression that the Islamic world was being targeted by the measures. Most of those arrested over last week's alleged plot were of Pakistani origin.

Reid said after Wednesday's talks with his EU counterparts that terrorism was "a persistent and very real threat across Europe".

At the talks, the European Commission promised to introduce a series of measures to strengthen airport security, boost cross-border intelligence sharing and tighten controls on explosives.

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