Exercise to pit EU against 'hostage-taking'
French government creates exercise to strengthen security response for potentially critical situations…20 June 2008
FRANCE - The European Union's ability to respond to a violent hostage-taking in the Gulf of Mexico will be put to the test in an exercise to be staged in Paris, the French foreign ministry said Thursday.
Code-named Xibalda 2008, the realistic exercise on Friday -- part of France's turn at the rotating EU presidency that begins July 1 -- will bring together specialist services from across the 27-nation bloc.
It is motivated by a need to better protect EU nationals who are either living or visiting abroad, the foreign ministry said.
"Ongoing liaison will be established with a crisis management team in position in Mexico and bringing together the abilities of member states in Mexico," the foreign ministry said.
The objective of the exercise "has been designed to put into action the concept of a pilot state that would confer the coordination of crisis management to one or several EU member states".
News media will be able to follow the exercise from the foreign ministry's international conference centre, near the Arc de Triomphe in the west of Paris, from 1 p.m. (1100 GMT).