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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
EU ministers back terror crackdown
euros and dollars
Ministers hope a financial crackdown will prevent terrorism
European Union foreign ministers on Wednesday reaffirmed their "total, unreserved solidarity" with the United States-led military campaign in Afghanistan.

They said that the strikes were a self-defence measure and were in line with United Nations resolutions.

Ministers from the 15 member states are meeting in Luxembourg to forge a joint position on terrorism and the future of Afghanistan ahead of the EU summit in Ghent this weekend.

They are also reviewing tough counter-terrorism proposals put forward by justice and finance ministers earlier this week.

Financial measures

These include tightening the laws on money laundering and banking secrecy, and plans for a Europe-wide arrest warrant.

Some of these proposals were put forward long before 11 September, but have gained an added urgency in the last month.

Javier Solana
Javier Solana is to come up with an action plan for Afghanistan
If passed, the new measures would mean that a whole range of professionals - including accountants, estate agents and lawyers - would be required to report any "suspicious transactions" they come across.

Ministers are also working on joint ways to:

  • Share information on bank accounts believed to be held by criminals.

  • Take punitive action against states which are not seen as adhering to international norms on combating money-laundering, with the Philippines and the tiny Pacific island of Nauru at the top of the list.

  • Follow up the inquiries into whether the 11 September terrorists also profited from their crimes by investing in key shares before the attacks, and selling them afterwards.

Future of Afghanistan

A draft statement from Wednesday's meeting puts the "highest priority" on the provision of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.

The ministers are also discussing how they believe a post-Taleban government in Afghanistan should be formed.

Italy's Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero told the AFP news agency that any future regime must be multi-ethnic to avoid internal conflict.

The EU's foreign policy representative, Javier Solana, has been charged with creating an EU action plan for Afghanistan in co-operation with the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The ministers are also keen to ensure the cohesion of the international coalition against terrorism and to support Afghanistan's neighbours. Proposals to ease trade restrictions on Pakistan have already been put forward.

Antonio Vitorino, EU Commissioner
"We did not make these proposals just because of the events of Sep 11"
Orsa Nylund of Finnish TV
"They are really strong on holding a united front"
See also:

16 Oct 01 | Europe
EU combats terror funding
16 Oct 01 | Americas
Canada tightens net on terrorism
15 Oct 01 | Business
Conference targets terror funds
28 Sep 01 | Business
Net closes on terror cash
24 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush calls halt to terror funding
24 Sep 01 | Business
Will Bush's asset freeze work?
19 Sep 01 | Business
Following the money trail
18 Sep 01 | Business
Bin Laden 'share gains' probe
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