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German officials to work out new anti-terrorism laws

Germany's top officials met in Berlin to work out details of anti-terrorism measures, a task given new urgency by a failed attempt to bomb two trains this summer.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2006 16:56 IST

Germany's top state and federal security officials met in Berlin on Monday to try to hammer out details of new anti-terrorism measures, a task given new urgency by a failed attempt to bomb two trains this summer.

The talks between Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his state counterpartshave beenfocusing on establishing a new anti-terrorism database.

There is wide agreement on the need for the database to give investigators a tool to better hunt terrorism suspects, but there is division over what the database should contain.

Proposals range from an "index" version in which authorities can see which agencies have information on a suspect- but not the material itself until it is requested- to a "full text" version.

The debate has been centering on what kind of middle-ground can be found, with conservative politicians suggesting adding details like a suspect's religion and job history to the "index" database. Others have argued such details might violate constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights.

Heading in to the talks, Bavarian Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein said he was counting on being able to work out a solution. "I think we will come to an agreement, because we must come to an agreement," Beckstein told reporters.

The proposal for a database has been on the table for years, but was strengthened after two men planted bombs on regional trains on July 31. The bombs' detonators went off, but failed to ignite the devices.

The incident drove home the message to Germans that the country could also be a target for terrorism, and gave rise to calls for greater security measures.

The interior ministers were also expected to talk about the possibility of more video surveillance and other proposals.

First Published: Sep 04, 2006 16:56 IST