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Leaders pledge terror fight boost


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PARIS, France (CNN) -- The leaders of France and Germany have pledged to step up the fight against terrorism and coordinate with other nations to protect citizens and institutions.

"Europe must always fight terrorism with all its strength," French President Jacques Chirac told reporters on Tuesday.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, appearing with Chirac after their bilateral talks in Paris, said he agreed with that assessment.

The leaders were meeting in the French capital nearly a week after bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 201 people.

Both leaders expressed solidarity with Spain in the wake of the terrorism, and vowed better cooperation among European nations to collect intelligence on various attacks.

Military force is not the only solution, Schroeder said. "One needs to look at the roots of it," including lack of development in the developing world.

Meanwhile, officials of anti-terrorist services from across the European Union were preparing to travel to Spain in the next few days to coordinate the investigation and exchange information after the Madrid bomb attacks.

"We have called a meeting for the coming days of the most important anti-terrorist services from the European Union who will meet here in Madrid," Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes told Reuters Monday.

"This will be to coordinate inquiries and efforts, exchange information and plan for the future."

The EU will also hold an emergency meeting of EU interior and justice ministers on Friday before a summit of European leaders on March 25-26. The issue of terrorism is sure to overshadow scheduled talks on economic reforms.

Among EU proposals being floated after Thursday's Madrid train bombings is the possibility of appointing a special EU anti-terrorism czar, Reuters reported.

Constitution hopes

Chirac and Schroeder said they also supported the agreed on the European Union's need to adopt a new constitution, hopefully by the end of the year, and welcomed Sunday's change in government in Spain, which previously opposed the need for a constitution.

They said Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero needs time to review the draft, which expresses solidarity among European nations.

"The first statements of the new prime minister are very positive," Schroeder said. "I look forward to a meeting in the near future."

Talks on the historic constitution were launched more than two years ago, but collapsed in December amid bitter discord over voting rights.

The document is meant to forge the EU's decision-making framework after it expands from 15 to 25 members this year.


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