Terror outfits of Britain, B'desh have potential linkages: Smith

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Dhaka, Apr 9 (UNI) British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith today said terror outfits of Britain and Bangladesh have potential linkages and said the intelligence officials of the two countries would meet in June to work out short and long-term measures to tackle terrorism.

''Yes, there is a potential linkage between terrorists in Britain and Bangladesh and we have shared interest and endevaour to tackle it through both short and long term measures,'' she told a press conference at the British High Commissioner's residence.

Ms Smith, who came here from Pakistan last night and had a series of meetings with the Chief Advisor, the Home Advisor, Foreign Advisor and the army chief today, said as short-term mechanism the two countries agreed to share information to catch terrorists killing people in both Britain and Bangladesh. And longterm measures were to prevent people from joining terrorist acts.

In reply to a question, she said a Joint Working Group representing senior officials from Security and Counter-terrorism Department, intelligence agencies, police department and the foreign office would sit for its first meeting in June to devise the short-and long-term modalities for countering transnational terrorism.

Replying to another question, the British minister said, ''We agree with the US analysis about HUJI-B as potential threat.'' The US State Department on March 5 designated Harkat-Ul-Jihad-i-Islami-Bangladesh (HUJI-B) a 'Foreign Terrorist Organisation'.

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said the leader of HUJI-B signed the February 1998 fatwa sponsored by Osama bin Laden that declared American civilians to be legitimate targets for attack.

Since then, HUJI-B has been implicated in a number of terrorist attacks.

''We value our counter-terrorism relationship with Bangladesh very highly,'' she said, adding, ''Sadly, both our countries have known the horrors of indiscriminate terrorist violence and have seen damaging effect of extreme ideology which only nurture divisions, fear and suspicion.'' She noted that Bangladesh has shown commitment to tackling terrorism and we welcome recent successes in making arrests.

''There can be no room for complacency, however. It is also important to address root causes of radicalisation.'' Asked about the general election in Bangladesh, Ms Smith said durable and sustainable elections were important for the future of Bangladesh nationally and internationally and expressed her firm optimism that the elections were going to be held according to the announced roadmap before the end of this year.

The visiting Home Secretary said during her talks with the government and the military leaders, she was reassured that institutional reforms, registration of voters and other necessary elements were on the right track to deliver a credible election.

''Achieving democracy that can endure will be vital to Bangladesh's future stability, development and prosperity,'' she told the journalists, adding that ''the UK, as a close friend of Bangladesh and its people, supports the process and ambition for transparent, inclusive and fair elections of the highest standard before the end of 2008.'' UNI XC PD RN2329

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