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EU may create 'not so clean' airport list

(BRUSSELS) - The European Union failed Monday to agree on a German proposal to create a blacklist of high-risk airports following mail bomb plots from Yemen and Greece but may instead draw up a "not so clean" list.

EU interior ministers decided to create an ad hoc group that will explore ways to beef up security in the wake of the discoveries of booby-trapped packages that originated in Yemen and Greece.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere proposed to his counterparts a five-point plan that included the creation of an airport blacklist and other ways to increase the scrutiny of suspicious parcels.

"There was no agreement that there should be blacklist of some countries," Belgian Interior Minister Annemie Turtelboom, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told a news conference after the ministerial meeting.

The EU has a blacklist of unsafe airlines that are banned from flying in the 27-nation bloc but it does not have such a list for airports.

The ad hoc group will look into the possibility of creating a check list of airports that are "clean" and "not so clean" in order to know if packages from those places need extra scrutiny, she said.

"We need to develop a risk analysis and determine which types of packages are always controlled," Turtelboom added.

A set of measures will be proposed to a joint meeting of interior and transport ministers on December 2, which was not previously scheduled, in order to find a "common standard" for the European Union.

Germany, France, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands unilaterally decided to ban all air freight originating from Yemen after printer ink cartridges stuffed with a hard-to-detect explosive were uncovered in Dubai and Britain.

The Yemen bombs were blamed on a branch of Al-Qaeda, while the much less dangerous parcels from Athens were allegedly sent by a far-left Greek fringe group.

Germany is particularly sensitive to the threat after a parcel bomb from Greece was seized at the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel last week. One of the parcel bombs from Yemen was found in a British airport after it transited through the western German city of Cologne.

3043rd Council meeting Justice and Home Affairs (Provisional version) - Brussels, 8 November 2010

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