European Union and the United States are concerned that the North African branch of al-Qaeda may be receiving weapons from Libya, exploiting the chaotic situation there, Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Thursday, dpa reported.
Rubalcaba made the comments after a meeting in Madrid between the so-called European G-6 - comprising Spain, France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Poland - and the United States, represented by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
The Spanish minister expressed concern that weapons from Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi's army - "or what is left of it" - could end up in the hands of terrorists.
"There is a problem with the Touaregs who are returning from Libya," Rubalcaba said in a reference to Touareg combatants in Gaddafi's army, who he said could be involved in "arms trafficking" from Libya to Mali.
The G-6 agreed to step up police coordination regarding the Sahel region, which Rubalcaba described as a training ground for al-Qaeda and as a hub for cocaine, weapons and human trafficking.
The G-6 will also seek to increase coordination with the African Union to tackle security threats in the Sahel.
Rubalcaba and Napolitano signed an agreement on increasing Spanish-US cooperation against new security threats, such as chemical, biological or nuclear attacks.
The two countries will exchange technology, information and experts to combat such threats, according to the agreement.
Rubalcaba is poised to be appointed the new leader of Spain's socialist party next week.