France Calls for Emergency EU Meeting

Published March 15, 2004

| Associated Press

France on Monday called for an urgent meeting of European Union (searchforeign ministers, saying it was crucial for the EU to react to the attacks against Madrid (search) with vigilance and unity.

"It is essential that we regroup and that we coordinate, and that is what Europe must do," Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin (searchtold RTL radio, amid increasing concerns that the Madrid attacks which killed 201 people were the work of Islamic extremists.

De Villepin's call for an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers came one day after German leaders called for a swift meeting of security officials from the 15 EU nations.

"There are initiatives that have been taken so that the interior ministers can meet and coordinate their efforts," de Villepin said. "The same initiatives must be taken on the level of foreign ministers, and that is why we are proposing an exceptional meeting."

German Interior Minister Otto Schily on Sunday asked Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who holds the EU presidency, to call a meeting of the EU interior ministers "as quickly as possible — next week, if possible."

France has increased security at airports, train stations and other sites considered sensitive since the bombings in Madrid on Thursday, which tore through four rush-hour trains.

De Villepin said that no country should consider itself safe from terrorism.

"We must be mobilized," de Villepin said. "Vigilance is essential."

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