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EU seeks to widen fight against terrorism

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EU seeks to widen fight against terrorism
Fri May 5, 2:54 PM ET

VIENNA (AFP) - The European Union sought ways to widen the fight against terrorism at a security conference at which EU pressure for Serbia to arrest genocide suspect Ratko Mladic took center stage.

Police were on the move in Serbia Friday looking for Mladic, two days after the bloc punished Belgrade for failing to hand him over to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague by suspending key rapprochement talks.

Mladic has been on the run since 1995, when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia based in The Hague charged him with war crimes stemming from the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre.

Serbian Interior Minister Dragan Jocic insisted in Vienna that Mladic could be arrested in the near future.

"The question of Mladic will be solved very soon," he said at the security conference.

The European Union signed a police cooperation accord with Balkan states at the conference, which was also attended by Russia and the United States.

Speaking here Thursday, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales warned of a growing threat of terrorism which he said could not be combatted by one country alone.

The EU Austrian presidency announced an international partnership agreement involving its "strategic partners" Russia and the US, to step up cooperation in fighting terrorism, human- and drug-trafficking and other cross-border crime.

"The European Union must find an answer to the threat to security posed by terrorism, organized crime, corruption and drugs and to the challenge of managing migration flows," Austrian Interior Minister Liese Prokop said.

"If the EU is to succeed in this endeavour, it must work together with countries outside the EU," she said in a statement by the Austrian current EU presidency, entitled the Vienna Declaration on Security Partnership.

The declaration was adopted by 50 states and organizations including a number of Arab countries, Prokop said, at the end of the two-day International Conference on Internal Security.

The declaration lays the groundwork for increased cooperation between the EU and other countries on fighting organized crime.

Another document signed at the conference, the Police Cooperation Convention for South East Europe, aims to develop cooperation between the EU and countries in the western Balkans, Prokop said.

It aims to increase information-sharing and cooperation in investigations and cross-border pursuit of suspects, bringing these measures in southeast European countries closer to EU standards.

The convention was signed by Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia-Montenegro and Romania. Austria, Germany, Croatia and the EU police force Europol are to provide expertise to assist the measures.

"The development of the area of freedom, security and justice can be successful only if it is supported by partnerships with third countries in these matters," the Austrian statement said.

These partnerships must include "the strengthening of the rule of law and the encouragement of respect for human rights and for international commitments," it added.

The Vienna conference brought together ministers from the EU and candidate states for EU membership, states from the western Balkans and other European, African and Middle Eastern countries, plus Russia and the United States.

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