Setting aside their domestic squabbles, the British and French prime ministers met in Downing Street to consider ways of combining their efforts to fight terrorism.
Exchanges of information and other security measures topped the agenda set forTony Blair and Dominique de Villepin, but the French leader also had a specific measure in mind. “Of course we know that when we are facing difficulties as friends and as Europeans we know the solution,” Villepin said. “The solution is action and more cooperation, and that is exactly what we are intending to do during the next weeks and months.” Among the French proposals is that Britain hand over Rachid Ramda, suspected by French police of organising a deadly bomb attack on the Saint-Michel subway station in Paris exactly 10 years ago and currently held by the British authorities. London agreed to the request last April but Ramda is contesting the move in the courts. Blair said: “I did myself raise this with the prime minister and obviously there is a court process in place that we hope will be successfully prosecuted.” Other concrete measures under debate are the identification of Islamist extremists and the longer retention of recorded telephone conversations.