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EU To Set Up Counterterrorism Projects With Muslim States


"The threat is not only the one we faced in Paris but is also spreading in many other parts of the world," EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said. "We need to share information more."

EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini says the European Union wants to launch counterterrorism alliances with several Muslim countries to boost cooperation in the wake of deadly attacks and arrests across Europe.

Mogherini said on January 19 that the EU was looking at "specific projects to launch in coming weeks with some specific countries to increase the level of cooperation on counterterrorism, and I would name Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, and the [Persian] Gulf countries."

She was speaking to reporters after an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, as Belgian troops patrolled the streets in the capital and other cities.

Mogherini said the ministers had made a series of other decisions, including stepping up efforts to curb the financing of terrorist networks, improving communication with Arab-speaking communities within the EU, and posting "security attaches" abroad to boost cooperation with other countries.

Mogherini said the EU ministers agreed on the need to share intelligence "not only with the EU but also with other countries around us," including countries as far afield as Asia.

The January 7-9 attacks by Islamist militants in Paris and last week's raids on suspected Islamists in Belgium have raised fears about the potential threat from European citizens returning from the battlefields in Syria and Iraq.

Mogherini and some ministers also urged the European Parliament to move forward on sharing airline passenger information between EU countries.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said the police raids in his country last week to break up a suspected network of foreign fighters demonstrated that information-sharing is the key to success.

"We have to exchange information in Europe and outside Europe to really follow what is going on and to prevent any acts that could be launched on our territory," Reynders said.

A Belgian soldier guards the streets near the meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.
A Belgian soldier guards the streets near the meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.

Ahead of the meeting, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Paris attacks had "changed Europe and the world."

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi, who was attending the talks, said ahead of the meeting, "every country in the world is suffering from terrorism."

"It is not just a military or security issue, it covers the intellectual, cultural, media, and religious spheres," he added, "and that is what we are trying to get."

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Muslim countries "have suffered the greatest burden of terrorism and they will continue to be in the front lines."

"We have to work closely with them to protect both those countries and the EU countries," he added.

The gathering in Brussels came as members of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group, including Arab states, prepared to meet in London on January 22 to discuss "shared efforts to degrade and defeat" the extremist group.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and the BBC
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