Transcript of European Union/United States Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Press Availability

WASHINGTON , Dec. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following transcript of the European Union/ United States Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Press Availability was released today by the U.S. Department of Justice: 1:40 P.M...

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: We reached agreement on 12 applicable principles and a way to move forward such that we can further our law enforcement interests while protecting personal data and have everybody agree and work toward a treaty that allows us to recognize that everybody's system provides adequate protection. But we've at least laid a baseline.

MINISTER ALLIOT-MARIE: (Through translator.) The question about Guantanamo was not brought up in order to answer your question, but concerning Guantanamo it is up to the United States to determine when and how to close Guantanamo. I would simply like to say there are no French detainees in Guantanamo. The subject of receiving individuals in France should be debated at the European level.

QUESTION: I have a question for the European Colleagues. There is a union summit that is taking place this weekend when counter-terrorism officials in Brussels arrested a suspected Al Qaeda cell. And I was wondering if you briefed American colleagues on that, how imminent a potential attack was there, why officials acted now, and if it was believed that a plot was under way or these individuals were recruiting to send individuals or terrorists overseas.

MINISTER ALLIOT-MARIE: (Through translator.) Sorry. I didn't hear very well your question. Can you repeat?

QUESTION: Can you just comment about the arrest that took place in Brussels yesterday and the potential threat to the EU summit there?

MINISTER ALLIOT-MARIE: (Through translator.) I didn't understand that it was about what happened yesterday. It's obvious that our organizations work very closely and exchange a certain type of information. I knew that there was an alert in Brussels from before yesterday evening, so it's obvious that every time there is an alert of this type, all information that we might have, we transfer to the country involved, and we also assist to the country that was threatened.

QUESTION: Was it a possible attack in Europe , or was it something that was destined for a possible attack in Pakistan or Afghanistan ? There's been conflicting reports on the cell.

MINISTER ALLIOT-MARIE: (Through translator.) Between Europe and Europe as I said before there is total solidarity, because it's the same threat. Today, the threat exists in each of our countries. That's why it's obvious that we need to help the country that is targeted at the European level. What we tried to do is to establish systems that allow us to identify if an attack will take place and to respond with European solidarity. In an exercise in Southern France , we simulated an attack. It was radiological or bacteriological. I don't remember. It involved European countries that participated in the reaction, and it was an example of the solidarity which we have put into place.

The PNR system allows us to use data, which benefits all of the countries involved. And we are working on having a PNR which would be in effect throughout all of Europe which would also allow for exchanges with the American PNR. Those are actions that we are undertaking. Did that answer your question?

QUESTION: Can you just confirm, is Malta going to be added at the end of the year and then the other five countries when will they be added?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BAKER: We are in talks now with Malta . Those talks are moving forward very well. Malta is very close. We are hoping that they will meet all the conditions and will be able to admit them, perhaps this year, so there is very little left of the year, so we're hoping that it's just a matter of weeks with respect to Malta . With respect to the other countries that might join the Visa Waiver Program, there are a number of statutory requirements that need to be met under U.S. law.

None of the countries of Europe that are still outside of the Visa Waiver Program with the exception of Malta and Greece were eligible this year and at the same time we have begun talks with a number of the European countries that are still outside of the Visa Waiver Program to meet as many of the statutory requirements as we can.