Joint British/US anti-terror agency agreed

Britain and the US have agreed to establish a joint anti-terrorism agency, following a meeting between Home Office Minister David Blunkett and US officials in Washington yesterday.

Also on the agenda was the sharing of counter-terrorism intelligence, joint training exercises, infrastructure security, and science and technology.

The work of the joint agency will cover: closer working on the development of biometric technology, such as iris and facial recognition; pooling of knowledge and resources, such as vaccines, to counter chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats; and strategies to prevent and deal with cyber/electronic attacks.

Following his meeting with David Blunkett, US Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the UK had "extensive experience in battling the challenge of terrorism at home". Mr Ridge went on to describe the UK as "a critically important ally in bringing our attackers to justice".

Mr Blunkett said: "Today's agreement marks an unprecedented degree of co-operation between our two governments in the fight against international terrorism, building on the excellent co-operation we already have on security and intelligence issues.

"Today we have focused on how we can extend that spirit of friendship and co-operation in more practical ways. The closer we work together, the more difficult the terrorists' job becomes."

In establishing joint facilities, it is hoped the Anglo-US initiative will assist in dealing with the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear imports and "the danger that people are transferring the capability across the world".


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