Zapatero, Sarkozy strengthen security ties against ETA terror

11th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Leaders set aside "past differences" on immigration policy.

11 January 2008

MADRID - Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and French President Nicolas Sarkozy sealed an agreement Thursday in Paris to set up a permanent joint police taskforce in order to strengthen the fight against Basque terrorist group ETA on both sides of the Pyrenees.

"This is a decisive accord... and one more step in the long history of cooperation against ETA between our two countries," Zapatero said in a joint press conference with Sarkozy after a Spanish-French bilateral summit.

Although lacking a permanent headquarters, the joint taskforce will comprise both Spanish and French officers who will work together on a permanent basis in investigations into ETA. Previously police teams were created when needed for cross-border inquiries and then disbanded at the end of an investigation.

The plans to create the joint taskforce were announced in December after two undercover Spanish Civil Guard officers had been shot and killed by ETA members in southwestern France. Zapatero thanked Sarkozy for the help of French security forces in tracking down the ETA cell responsible for the murders.

"The accord signed today will ensure that democracy, not terrorists, have the final word," the Spanish prime minister said.

In the meeting yesterday, the two leaders also discussed immigration - a touchy subject after Sarkozy, while interior minister in 2006, criticised Zapatero's amnesty for illegal immigrants. But yesterday the French president said the two had reached a "common position" on immigration that has cast aside "past differences." Both leaders said they will push for an EU immigration pact aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from entering the bloc while promoting legal entry.

[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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