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French Minister Calls for Increased European Cooperation on Security


French Interior Minister Michele Alliot Marie has called for closer European cooperation to fight security threats. Lisa Bryant reports from Paris that the minister says France will make this a priority when it takes over the presidency of the European Union next year.

Interior Minister Alliot-Marie called for the European Union to build a security policy in the same way it is constructing a common European defense program.

Faced with new threats, Alliot-Marie says Europe needs to build alliances that cross borders to attack evil at its source and root out problems at their source. She said her vision of Europe was not as a fortress, but as a coherent whole that engages constructively with other regions and respects individual liberties.

Alliot Marie was speaking at the launch of an international security trade fair in Paris, known as Milipol.

The fair's general manager, Michael Wetherseed, said concern about security threats - from petty crimes to terrorism - is soaring. That concern is reflected at the fair, where about 25,000 security experts are expected to attend.

"We have seen it growing and growing, particularly since September 11, 2001," he noted. "We see it both in terms of the growth of our exhibitors and in terms of our visitors."

Most of the buyers are governments. Besides Alliot-Marie, the interior ministers of Israel, Burkina Faso, Switzerland and Qatar also visited the fair Tuesday.

Visiting the fair's booths seems almost like being on a movie set for a police thriller. There are vehicles for rescuing hostages, bulletproof underwear, flashlights that can be attached to guns, and a dizzying array of rifles.

The American company, Taser International, sells something called the Taser X26. Taser's founder, Tom Smith, explains the device is meant to temporarily immobilize wrongdoers by shooting electricity at them.

"We can reach 25 feet and use electricity to cause muscles to contract and release 19 times per second to stop somebody," he said. "So if somebody is drunk or on drugs or alcohol and they want to fight with police, this will end that fight. So they will not get hurt and the officers do not get hurt."

The security trade fair lasts through Friday, and organizers say 42 countries will be represented.

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