Germany seeks stronger EU-US ties in combating international terrorism

26th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 September 2007, Washington (dpa) - Europe and the United States should further expand cooperation in fighting terrorism, but that will likely require new agreements balancing privacy rights and intelligence gathering, Germany's top law enforcement official said Tuesday.

26 September 2007

Washington (dpa) - Europe and the United States should further expand cooperation in fighting terrorism, but that will likely require new agreements balancing privacy rights and intelligence gathering, Germany's top law enforcement official said Tuesday.

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, in Washington for talks with top US security officials, said the "main task is to have a growth of trans-Atlantic cooperation also in security."

He pointed to a hard-won EU-US accord in June to exchange names of plane passengers, hailed as a triumph of cooperation in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.

"We have a common threat," Schaeuble told reporters. "I am totally convinced that we must not unilaterally decide in all these sensitive regards. We should strengthen international institutions wherever possible."

Schaeuble suggested Monday that Europe and the US "discuss international law issues" related to terrorist threats - for instance, at what point wartime laws take over from peacetime laws.

"Also the distinction between combatant and non-combatant seems to be no longer sufficient," Schaeuble, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing centre-right Christian Democrats, said in a speech.

"We have to come to solutions," he said Tuesday. "We have to have a public debate."

Schaeuble confirmed German media reports that investigators believe the bomb detonators seized in a foiled terrorist plot in Germany came from Syria.

Germany this month arrested three alleged Islamic militants accused of planning to blow up car bombs at US military sites and elsewhere in a "massive" terror attack. They were part of a group linked to al-Qaeda and had trained in Pakistan, authorities said.

"We know the fuses for these bombs ... they came from Syria via Turkey to Germany. We don't really know more," Schaueble said.

The foiled plot has stoked debate in Germany about how far anti- terror laws should go. Critics accuse Schaeuble of trying to push state snooping too far, most recently in a proposal for surveillance of internet communications.

Schaeuble on Tuesday dismissed the "silly debate" and said civil rights were not under threat in Germany.

"We are not the Stasi," he said, evoking former communist East Germany's dreaded secret police.

DPA

Subject: German news

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