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(Will be discussed at upcoming Madrid summit) (500)

By David Pitts

USIA Staff Writer

Airlie, Virginia -- The United States "stands ready to form a

partnership with the European Union (EU)) to deal with the problem of

transnational crime," Mark Richard, an assistant U.S. attorney

general, said November 2.

Speaking at a two-day conference on U.S.-EU issues, titled

"Transatlantic Ties and Tensions," Richard, who oversees the

international enforcement effort in the criminal division of the

Justice Department, said the issue will be on the agenda at the

upcoming Madrid summit, which President Clinton will attend.

Richard underlined Clinton's view that "the growing problem of

transnational crime is a national security issue" for the United

States as well as members of the EU. The main focus is organized

criminal activity across frontiers, the threat of international

terrorism, and transborder narcotics trafficking, he explained.

The U.S. official welcomed bilateral cooperation with the EU to fight

transnational crime, but at the same time he said he hoped such

emerging cooperation "will not upset bilateral relations with

individual EU member nations because they have been very effective" in

the area of fighting international crime.

But the current threat "poses unique challenges and requires us to

question traditional ways of responding," Richard said. Current

mechanisms for investigating, detecting, and prosecuting crimes "are

inadequate" in view of increasing criminal activity across frontiers;

greater cooperation is required, he added.

Richard outlined the problem areas that U.S.-EU cooperation is

focusing on:

-- Widely different extradition laws among the nations involved. "No

country should be a sanctuary for criminals," he remarked.

-- Lack of effective data exchange. "Rapid exchange of information and

intelligence is needed," he noted. He welcomed the introduction of

Europol (an EU-wide information system on criminal activity that

recently has been established) and underlined the importance of

Interpol, the European police agency, with which U.S. law enforcement

agencies have built "good relations."

-- Flawed prosecution of transnational criminals because of lack of

"common evidentiary techniques." He called for a common approach by

all countries toward such tools as wiretaps, undercover activities,

and sting operations, with appropriate safeguards to protect civil


-- Coordination problems among law enforcement agencies and foreign

affairs ministries, intelligence units. The fight against

transnational crime "requires adequate coordination" among these

agencies nationally and among their counterparts overseas, he said.

-- Duplicate assistance programs by the United States and the EU to

countries requiring law enforcement assistance, particularly in

Central Europe. "This needs to be addressed so that assistance can

have the maximum effect," he said, suggesting a clearinghouse as one

way of addressing the problem.

Richard described these issues as being "at the cutting edge of law

enforcement and national security." Proposals by law enforcement

experts both in the United States and the EU on these and other issues

have been readied for discussion in Madrid, he added.