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France to reinstate border controls for climate talks

Checks at French airports and land crossings will restart during the 12-day UN conference amid fears of terrorism and violent protests. Some 80 heads of state including President Barack Obama are expected to attend.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed on Friday that France is to suspend the Schengen free-travel zone on its territory for several weeks around a major

United National climate conference in Paris

in December. He said the move was necessary for security reasons.

Authorities are on alert for violent protesters as well as potential terror attacks around the November 30 to December 11 talks, which will see tens of thousands of people from almost 200 nations converge on the French capital for the conference opening.

The talks are expected to seal a deal to fight global warming in the years from 2020.

Twenty-six EU states make up the Schengen area, where passport controls have been abolished at internal borders. France was one of the first signatories to the agreement in 1985.

As well as roughly 40,000 attendees of the conference, thousands more environmental activists are expected to rally through the streets of Paris on November 29. Protesters are also planning to block off the conference site on December 11 and 12.

The controls will be in place for a month, Cazeneuve told BFM television.

France on high alert

France issued a note to EU officials last month, announcing border checks at all international airports, as well as its 131 land crossings with Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Luxembourg. The note said that Schengen rules allow controls "when there is a serious threat to public policy."

France is still coming to terms with the attack on the

satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store

in January, which left 20 people dead. In August, an

attempt to attack a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris was thwarted

by passengers.

The country regularly faces largely peaceful protests, but some degenerate into violence by an extremist fringe.

France last reinstated national border controls for a G20 summit in Cannes in 2011, but the government has fought to keep the Schengen zone together amid a worsening refugee crisis that has seen several countries shut their borders.

mm/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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