Biden to visit Brussels, Spain

23rd April 2010, Comments 0 comments

US Vice President Joe Biden will make a major speech to the European Parliament next month, and will also become the most senior Obama administration official to visit Spain.

Biden will speak to officials in Brussels and Madrid during the May 5-8 trip about how to improve cooperation on counter-terrorism, his office said in a statement.

The vice president will also "discuss trans-Atlantic security issues with NATO officials and meet with Belgian leaders," the statement said.

In Madrid, Biden will meet King Juan Carlos, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and other members of the Spanish government and will speak about topics including the Spanish presidency of the EU, the White House said.

Earlier, Spanish public radio quoted government sources as saying the talks would focus on US efforts to reach a new deal with the EU to allow US officials to again access Europeans' personal data in anti-terrorism probes.

In February, EU lawmakers blocked a key agreement of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program that allowed US access to information from the interbank money transfer system SWIFT to track suspect finances.

The deputies' main concern was that personal information, including data from electronic bank payments, would be used by US authorities, held for too long and handed on to other governments.

Data on SWIFT money transfers helped authorities detain suspects involved in an Al-Qaeda-directed plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights in 2006.

European ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday reached an agreement on a framework to open negotiations with Washington on the issue, and talks could start at the beginning of May.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), based near Brussels, deals with trillions of dollars in global transactions daily between nearly 8,000 financial institutions.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article