- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2002

A top British official for Northern Ireland was in Washington this week to share with high-ranking U.S. officials details of Britain's experiences with domestic terrorism that he said could help root out the problem here.

Secretary for Northern Ireland John Reid's talks with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III focused on joint programs to fight international terrorism and on how the two governments could better coordinate military and police efforts.

"We have received so much support from the United States over the last several decades that we want to share what we have learned about terrorism," Mr. Reid said Tuesday while speaking on "fighting terrorism in a democratic society" at the American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Reid said exchange of information is paramount in battling international terrorism.

He said Northern Ireland, where 3,500 people have been killed in violence blamed on Protestant Unionists and Catholic Republicans, has a special understanding of the fear spread by terrorism.

Combating terrorism involves a multipronged attack, he said, which includes information gathering, threat assessment and appropriate response, and keeping the public involved.

"You have to be prepared to use legitimate force, but accompany that with diplomatic, political and economic means," he said.

Mr. Reid noted that the use of force should match the severity of the crime.

Mr. Reid said terrorists should not be engaged diplomatically until they renounce violence, citing negotiations with the Irish Republican Army's political arm, Sinn Fein, which agreed to a cease-fire in 1997.

He advocated treating terrorist suspects differently from those accused of other crimes, including detaining suspects without formal charges, an issue for which Attorney General John Ashcroft has been criticized in the United States.

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