Reuters International

By Gabriela Baczynska

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Britain's interior minister said on Friday that remaining in the European Union would keep the country safer, as she arrived at her last EU ministerial before a referendum on whether to leave the bloc.

"I've been Home Secretary for six years now and I've been regularly attending these meetings. And I do so for a reason, because I am very clear that decisions taken here help to protect the United Kingdom's security and safety," Theresa May told reporters as she arrived for the talks in Luxembourg.

Previously critical of the European Union, like many of her Conservative colleagues, May is backing Prime Minister David Cameron's "Remain" campaign ahead of the June 23 vote.

"As we look at issues like the movement of illegal firearms across Europe, the sharing of criminal records, reducing the pull factors leading people to want to migrate into Europe, I am very clear that the United Kingdom can take a lead," May said, listing many of the items on the agenda at Friday's meeting.

"Leave" campaigners say quitting the bloc would allow it to better control immigration and secure its borders, something May, a senior politician seen as a potential future prime minister, appeared to dispute.

"Taking control is not about walking away from the table. Taking control is about making sure that our voice is heard and that it counts. But we can only take the lead on these issues by sitting around the table in the first place," she said.

The 28 EU ministers are due to agree on Friday more strict rules for gun purchase and ownership, a policy proposed after Islamist attacks in Paris killed 130 people in November, but one that has since been watered down.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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