Newspaper article International New York Times

E.U. Leaders Seek a Security Alliance

Newspaper article International New York Times

E.U. Leaders Seek a Security Alliance

Article excerpt

The meeting will add to pressure to establish a European system for exchanging plane passenger information.

European foreign ministers, meeting here in a city patrolled since Saturday by Belgian paratroopers as part of stepped-up precautions against terrorism, called on Monday for an alliance against Islamic extremism with the countries of North Africa and other Muslim nations like Yemen, where at least one of the gunmen responsible for attacks this month in Paris received training.

"We need an alliance, a dialogue because we are all facing the same threat," Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign affairs chief said at a news conference at the end of the one-day meeting of ministers.

In an effort to increase counterterrorism cooperation both inside Europe and with foreign countries, particularly those in the Muslim world, the 28-nation European bloc will assign security attaches at its diplomatic missions overseas, Ms. Mogherini said. She denied this was a step toward establishing a European intelligence service.

Didier Reynders, the foreign minister of Belgium, where the authorities said last week that they had foiled an imminent terrorist attacks with a raid by police on a house in the east of the country, said the European Union needed to increase intelligence sharing and other cooperation with countries like Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia to help curb radicalization and violent extremism.

Many of the Muslims living in Belgium and also France, including two brothers involved in the attack on a French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and also the reported ringleader of the foiled Belgian plot, trace their origins to North Africa.

Mr. Reynders said Europe wanted to work "much more directly with these partner countries."

The police in Greece, also a European Union member, said on Monday that a 33-year-old Algerian who was not named had been detained in Athens in connection with the Belgian plot and that Belgium had asked for his extradition.

Mr. Reynders, the Belgian foreign minister, declined to answer questions and shed no light on a terrorist operation that his government says was thwarted when police officers on Thursday shot dead two suspected militants in the eastern town of Verviers.

The authorities have declined to name the dead men and Belgian news media, citing official sources, have issued contradictory reports about the identities of the dead men, a confusion that has raised questions about who was really present in the house at the time of the raid.

A third man who escaped from the house without injury, Marouane el Bali, has denied any involvement in terrorism and said he went there for a drug deal. He is now under arrest.

Mr. Reynders and other ministers called for setting up a European system for exchanging passenger information, similar to one introduced in the United States after the attacks of Sept. …

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