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US official talks terrorism with federal prosecutor

Jimmy Gurulé was last in Switzerland in June


A top United States treasury official has stopped in Switzerland on the first leg of a European tour to discuss ways of tackling financial terrorism.

Jimmy Gurulé, the US under-secretary in charge of combating terrorist financing, held talks with the Swiss federal prosecutor, Valentin Roschacher.

Gurulé met with Roschacher for around one hour on Monday morning in Switzerland's financial capital, Zurich.

"There was an exchange of opinions and an exchange of information in a very friendly atmosphere," said Hansjürg Mark Wiedmer, spokesman at the federal prosecutor's office.

"We talked about how we can face the challenge of terrorism and how we can strengthen and accelerate the cooperation of the law enforcement agencies of both our countries," he told swissinfo.

Gurulé's visit comes just four months after his last trip to Switzerland, when he held high-level talks with the justice minister, Ruth Metzler, and praised the Swiss authorities for their efforts in combating terrorist financing.

During his last trip to the Swiss capital, Bern, in June, Gurulé refuted suggestions that Swiss banking secrecy might hinder efforts to track terrorist funds, in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Seeking assistance

Speaking ahead of his latest four-day trip to Europe - which will also include stops in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden - Gurulé said he would seek the help of European allies to catch individuals and organisations the US believes are financing groups such as the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

"There is certainly a list of high-impact targets that I intend to discuss with our allies during my trip," said Gurulé.

But Gurulé denied US media reports that he was heading to Europe with a specific list of Saudi Arabian citizens.

"I am going to Europe to encourage our allies to combat terrorist financing and ensure that their work in this area remains complementary and supportive of US strategy," he said.

Informal talks

On Tuesday morning, Gurulé is scheduled to hold a lunch meeting with representatives of Swiss banks.

Gurulé's second trip to Switzerland this year comes just four months after a visit to Bern by the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

During talks with Metzler last June, Ashcroft praised Switzerland for its pivotal role in the fight against terrorism.

Shortly before Ashcroft's visit, Roschacher proposed the creation of a new Anti-Terrorist Financing Task Force, in which Swiss law enforcement agents would work side by side with the US Treasury Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).


In brief

US treasury official, Jimmy Gurulé, is due to visit Switzerland as part of a four-day tour of Europe to discuss ways of combating terrorist funding.

Gurulé is expected to hold informal talks with the Swiss federal prosecutor, Valentin Roschacher, as well as with representatives of Swiss banks.

His visit comes four months after the US attorney general, John Ashcroft, praised Switzerland for its pivotal role in the fight against terrorism.

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