Biden to hold talks with Spanish PM inext month: radio

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US Vice President Joe Biden will hold talks in Madrid next month with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, public radio said Thursday.

Biden will arrive in the Spanish capital on May 7 and meet with Zapatero as well as several other Spanish government ministers the following day, it said, citing government sources.

Talks will focus on efforts by the United Statres to reach a new deal with the 27-nation European Union to allow the American officials to once again have 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.

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.

Biden will be the most senior member of President President Barack Obama's administration to visit Spain. Zapatero met with Biden in Chile in March 2009.

© 2010 AFP

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