(AFP) – Sep 27, 2008
BONN (AFP) — Interior ministers from the G6 European countries along with US representatives said Saturday they had made progress in the fight against terrorism while preserving individual liberty.
At a press conference after a meeting in Bonn they underlined the importance of preventing young people from becoming indoctrinated, while strengthening surveillance, notably of the Internet.
Despite signs that Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Britain and the United States have diverging approaches to combating terrorism, Germany's interior minister said they emphasised the need to work "in the spirit of the law."
Wolfgang Schaeuble added that terrorism can only be tackled via criminal law and legislation imposed on foreigners.
"We must respect individual freedoms. Our fellow-citizens are sensitive about them," said French interior minister Michele Alliot-Marie.
Meanwhile, the US homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff said he welcomed the meeting between the G6 and America, which has become like a "tranatlantic forum," because "terrorists do not distinguish among us."
Repeating the George W. Bush administration's mantra that "a global fight requires a global response," he said the different sides have "advanced our common agenda in a way in which could not have been foreseen."
At two previous meetings in Venice and near Berlin in 2007, Germany was criticised for its strong cooperation with America over counter-terrorism, notably on the exchange of personal data.
But Saturday's meeting in Bonn struck a more unified note. Summing up their conclusions, the representatives from the seven countries agreed to confer more often over "new legal instruments to prevent the threat of terrorism."
They also discussed establishing new laws that would allow for pursuing suspects who go abroad to training camps for armed conflict, an approach Schaeuble said Friday the international community would tackle "decisively."
The meeting also focused on the Internet as a recruitment and propaganda tool.
"Terrorism knows how to capitalise on the opportunities presented by all the different types of technology... We must adapt our action methods," said Alliot-Marie.
"We have discovered... just how propaganda manages to spread via the Internet," added Schauble. "We have to develop an approach to prevent threats linked to the cross-border use of electronic communication."
The seven countries agreed that preventative measures are the key, with Alliot-Marie saying they had to "solve the problems that feed terrorism" like under-development.
She also said she would present plans to stop terrorist recruitment in prisons at the next G6-US meeting.
Saturday's meeting took place a day after two Somali-born terror suspects were arrested on a KLM aircraft at Cologne-Bonn airport.
According to local media, the suspects wanted to fly from Amsterdam to Uganda and then to Pakistan to join the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU).
On Saturday, Schauble called the arrests "a typical example of international co-operation."
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