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Bush Administration Presses for Closer Trans-Atlantic Cooperation in War on Terrorism

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is urging closer cooperation between the United States and its allies in Europe and elsewhere in the war on terrorism. The secretary made remarks in Washington days before a planned trip to Europe for consultations with his trans-Atlantic counterparts.

Addressing reporters and academics, Secretary Chertoff suggested that, when it comes to the war on terrorism, the United States and its allies must fight fire with fire.

"It is not a war that we are going to win in the same way we won World War II by massing superior forces in the field," he noted. "This is fighting a network. One way to look at it is that we have to create our own network to combat that network."

The anti-terror network Mr. Chertoff has in mind consists of nations working closely with each other on intelligence, security, and other areas to track, disrupt and dismantle terrorist organizations.

The Bush administration has long maintained that trans-Atlantic intelligence sharing and other forms of cooperation have remained strong, despite disagreement between the United States and some of its allies over the war in Iraq. But Secretary Chertoff says that cooperation needs to be taken a step further.

"How do we take this [relationship] to the next level?" he asked. "How do we move beyond simply partnering on an individual, episodic basis to building a true partnership that will operate in a mission-oriented focus, where we will work together with our allies overseas to accomplish a mission that will secure the entire world?"

Just how to accomplish that goal will be a focus of the secretary's upcoming trip to Europe.

The exact schedule and itinerary have yet to be released.

In Brussels Thursday, Homeland Security undersecretary Randy Beardsworth met with European Union officials on transportation security issues. He said Washington will require travelers who do not need a visa to enter the United States to have machine-readable passports by June 26.

Former National Security Council official Charles Kupchan says the substance of what Secretary Chertoff is advocating - enhanced international cooperation in the war on terrorism - is nothing new.

"But I do hear a change in tone," Mr. Kupchan said. "And it sounds like the Bush administration is continuing its effort to reach out to the Europeans and to talk about the restoration of an alliance that covers the full range of activities in trying to combat terrorism."

Mr. Kupchan, now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, says European governments are receptive to calls for closer coordination with the United States in the war on terror.

In his remarks, Secretary Chertoff also urged a swift embrace and deployment of new technologies for identifying and screening both people and cargo materials. He advocated the development of what he termed "security envelopes" - secure environments through which pre-screened people and cargo can move rapidly and efficiently from place to place, allowing law enforcement officials to focus on actual threats.