Powell thanks French for air threat help

8th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (AFP) - US Secretary of State Colin Powell singled out Paris for praise Wednesday following French cooperation in stepped up security checks on airline passengers as America remains on high alert for potential terror attacks.

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (AFP) - US Secretary of State Colin Powell singled out Paris for praise Wednesday following French cooperation in stepped up security checks on airline passengers as America remains on high alert for potential terror attacks.

The top US diplomat also thanked war-on-terror ally Britain for its cooperation, as well as neighboring Mexico.

"With respect to airline flights, we had some information over the holiday period with respect to certain individuals with names that hit our database," Powell said.

"A lot of these names have not only duplicates, triplicates, but many similar names and it takes a while to sort through this."

"And we have found it necessary to work with our most cooperative friends around the world - particularly I might single out France in this instance, because they helped a great deal, as did the United Kingdom and Mexico - to make sure we knew who was on these airplanes," Powell said.

At Washington's request, seven flights to the United States were halted before takeoff by the three countries, three flights from France, two from Britain and two from Mexico, between December 24 and January 2.

The US authorities requested the cancellations fearing terrorists might be poised to use commercial aircraft in airborne terror strikes against the United States over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Powell spoke following a meeting here with Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio as the US remains on high alert for terror attacks.

He added that he hoped passengers had understood that any delays were also for their own safety.

© AFP

                                Subject: France news

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