Brussels, Jan 19: EU foreign ministers met today on building an alliance -- including with Muslim countries -- against a growing Islamist militant threat, with Europe on high alert after deadly Paris attacks and anti-terrorism raids in Belgium.
The immediate focus for the 28-nation European Union is how to prevent citizens known as "foreign fighters" returning home from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq even more radicalised and well trained. "We will start with a discussion on how to counter terrorism not only in Europe but in other parts of the world," EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said as she arrived for the meeting.
"We need to share information more, we need to cooperate more," Mogherini said, welcoming the presence of Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi at the talks. "We will discuss with the secretary general how to increase the level of cooperation with our partners," she said, adding: "We need an alliance, a dialogue."
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Paris attacks, which left 17 people dead, "changed Europe and the world." "Muslim countries of the world are the ones who have suffered the greatest burden of terrorism and they will continue to be in the frontlines," Hammond said.
Muslim countries of the world are the ones who have suffered the greatest
"We have to work closely with them to protect both those countries and the EU countries." Today's meeting will help prepare for a special leaders' summit on February 12 dedicated to fighting terrorism. Belgian authorities meanwhile were still hunting for Abdelhamid Abaaoud, considered the brains behind the cell plotting to kill Belgian police that was broken up last week.
Belgian federal prosecutors said they would seek the extradition of a suspect arrested in Athens on Saturday "who could be linked" to the cell.