US, Russia in air marshals agreement
The US and Russian presidents agreed in principle on Thursday to seek a deal which would allow air marshals to travel on flights between their nations in a bid to deter terror attacks.
President Barack Obama and Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev also agreed to push efforts to improve inspections of airports and air carriers, saying that attacks or thwarted strikes on both countries underscored the current threat.
"Terrorism has emerged as one of the greatest threats to global peace and security in the 21st Century," the presidents said in a joint statement, recalling the failed Times Square bomb plot in New York, subway bombings in Moscow and the bid to bring down a US jet over Detroit last year.
"We pledged today to take additional steps to safeguard the citizens of our countries, and at the same time safeguard civil liberties and fundamental freedoms," the statement said.
"We also achieved a principle understanding to establish an arrangement to allow air marshals to operate on flights between our countries."
Obama ordered the deployment of more air marshals onto US planes in January, after Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, allegedly attempted to detonate explosives aboard Northwest flight 253.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has previously put the number of deployed air marshals at "several thousand," and various reports put the level at around 4,000.
Currently, armed US air marshals cover only a fraction of international flights.
© 2010 AFP