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Transportation Ministers From 14 Countries Plan Concerted Action Against Security Threats


For the first time, ministers responsible for transportation security are making coordinated plans to prevent future terrorist attacks.

Transportation ministers from 14 countries on Friday announced their unanimous commitment to greater international cooperation on transportation security.

The ministers, meeting in Tokyo, warned that terrorists were refining and adapting their tactics, to find ways around stringent security regulations implemented in many countries after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Besides host Japan, such countries as the United States, China, Australia, South Korea, Britain and Russia were represented at the meeting. There were also officials of the International Maritime Organization, the World Customs Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Japanese Transport Minister Kazuo Kitagawa told reporters Friday that he and his counterparts want to ensure that transportation systems are not disrupted by terrorists.

Kitagawa says the conference's resolution is meant to send a strong political message of the ministers' determination to fight terrorism.

Delegates also discussed the serious threats to maritime security, noting that armed robberies and acts of piracy are occurring with sometimes alarming consequences, especially in the critical trade waterways of Asia and the coast of East Africa.

In wake of al-Qaida linked attacks on passenger rail transit in Spain and the United Kingdom, the group also said additional measures are needed to protect the railways.

But U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta says the ministers decided against creating a new international organization to focus on rail security.

"What we didn't want to do is to establish any further organizations to deal with security, but what we are looking for is a working group as it relates to transit and rail, because those are two areas that do not have an organized structure for security," said Norman Mineta.

Japan called for this meeting after the terrorist bombings on the London transportation system last year. Japanese officials say they will report the outcome of the conference to the Group of Eight summit to be held in Russia in July.

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