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US, European Officials Renew Efforts to Fight Terror

Top U.S. and European officials met in Washington Thursday and pledged to renew their efforts to jointly fight the international war on terror.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff met with officials from Britain, Austria, and the European Commission to discuss ways to improve cooperation to combat terrorism.

After the meeting Mr. Gonzales announced the United States will assign an FBI agent to Europol, the European Union's law enforcement organization that handles criminal intelligence.

He also says America and Europe will exchange threat assessments regarding terrorism and organized crime.

"The strategies, action plans and practical recommendations that we discussed today will help protect Americans and Europeans from violence and terrorism in the future," he said. "Our work, of course, is never done, but the free exchange of ideas and the critical examination of joint proposals, examples of the work we have accomplished today, will help us achieve our goals together."

Secretary Chertoff told reporters the officials discussed how to be prepared for terrorist attacks and how to best protect critical infrastructure.

He says the issue of border security is significant to countries on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Progress on border security, this is a matter of great importance to every country and particularly the countries of the European Union and the United States," Mr. Chertoff said. "We are trading partners, we are travel partners, we want to continue to have a robust set of relationships that is secure, but that is free."

The vice president of the European Commission, Franco Frattini, says the officials also discussed the importance of balancing security and individual rights.

He says collaboration is vital to creating a system that can fight terror at all levels.

"One very important political message on which all agreed is the importance of building a true network of security against the network of terror," he said. "Network security means to get involved all the relevant actors in the security field, in industry and research in order to have operational cooperation in all fields of common concern."

The officials also discussed the protection of intellectual property rights and the need for more dialog between people of different religions and cultures.