July 19, 2016 / 11:18 PM / 3 years ago

German foreign minister urges more ties between police, spy agencies

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on Wednesday for greater cooperation between police and intelligence agencies in Europe as well as sustained international efforts to fight Islamic State after recent attacks.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks during a news conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, July 1, 2016. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

The minister also said Germany would pledge a further 160 million euros ($176 million) to help stabilize Iraq at a donor conference of 24 countries in Washington.

“The attacks of the past have shown us there is no absolute security,” Steinmeier told Reuters in a written interview. “Terror strikes randomly and can hit each of us individually.”

“The fact is, we urgently need even closer cooperation between police and intelligence agencies in Europe, and better information sharing.”

He said it was also critical to keep fighting Islamic State in the Middle East and to improve the prospects of people in areas freed from its influence.

On Monday, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee injured five people in southern Germany before being shot dead by police, the latest in a string of attacks claimed by Islamic State.

Steinmeier said the only long-term way to combat extremism was to create conditions that allowed different religious and social groups to live together peacefully, both in the West and in the Middle East.

Steinmeier headed to Washington on Wednesday for the conference, and for meetings on Thursday with foreign and defense ministers to take stock of the fight against Islamic State.

He said Germany was already providing more humanitarian and stabilization aid than any other country and would give another 160 million euros for 2016 and 2017, bringing the total amount of German civilian assistance to more than 473 million euros.

“Week by week, IS is pushed further back. The joint actions of the international community against IS are working. But military success will only have a long-term effect if the Iraqi state has the confidence of the people in the liberated areas,” said Steinmeier.

The contributions will help ensure the safe return of Iraqi people to liberated areas, and mine clearance. Some 10 million euros are earmarked for humanitarian aid for Mosul, Iraq’s second city, captured by Islamic State two years ago.

“When the city of Mosul is freed from Islamic State, we will face enormous humanitarian, societal and political challenges, just as we saw when Falluja was liberated,” Steinmeier said.

Germany is a co-host of the donor conference, which aims to raise $2 billion, and has also offered the Iraqi government a subsidized 500 million euro loan to help stabilize liberated areas.

The Islamist militants, who also control large parts of Syria, have been broadly retreating since December, when the Iraqi army recaptured the city of Ramadi.

But U.S. and European officials say more must be done to support Iraq, plagued by political infighting, corruption and a growing fiscal crisis, as well as deep resentment of the Shi’ite Muslim-led government among minority Sunnis, who provide the bedrock of support for Islamic State.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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