Germany and the US signed a new agreement on Monday to cooperate closely on scientific and technological research aimed at boosting security without infringing on personal freedoms.
The agreement is meant to develop better protection from terrorist attacks and organized crime
Germany and the United States vowed to improve national security measures in both nations with a new agreement to cooperate with each other in the areas of scientific and technological research.
US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was in Berlin on Monday to sign the agreement with her German counterpart Annette Schavan, who is Germany's education and research minister.
The agreement is meant to develop better protection from terrorist attacks, natural disasters, large-scale accidents and organized crime.
“We want to use the benefits of research cooperation to mobilize the best ideas for optimal risk protection in our countries,” Schavan said in an official statement. “The United States and Germany will develop innovative research projects that contribute to the protection of our free, open and cross-linked transatlantic societies.”
"Strengthening transatlantic cooperation"
The accord, which is said to cost between 10 million euros and 20 million euros by 2012, is the first such agreement between the two countries.
"It is a considerable contribution to strengthening transatlantic cooperation with the new US government," Schavan told Der Spiegel.
Napolitano emphasized cooperation with US allies
Speaking in Berlin, Napolitano said that it was important to work with US allies in improving security without infringing on civil liberties.
"Homeland security is not about walling ourselves off from other countries, it is about cooperating with our allies," she said.
Napolitano also met top security officials from other major European Union countries as well as German interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin over the weekend.
Discussions on Guantanamo inmates still "premature"
Prior to the Sunday talks, Napolitano told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) that discussions on how many Guantanamo inmates would be transferred to Europe were still "premature."
US President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the controversial detention camp for alleged terrorists, only days after taking office in January.
Napolitano told the FAS newspaper that the US administration is currently evaluating individual cases. Asked about the rights of prisoners detained at the Bagram military internment facility in Afghanistan, she declined to comment on the situation there.
Napolitano didn't comment on questions of possible compensation in cases of terror suspects who might have been wrongly detained. But she insisted the Obama administration's methods in fighting terrorism would be fundamentally different from that of former president George W. Bush.
German interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, jointly interviewed by the FAS with Napolitano, said the fight against terrorism can only be successful when nations adhere to international conventions on human rights. This includes passenger rights when body searches are conducted at airports.
"On one hand we want to guarantee safety in the skies without making air travel too burdensome," he said.