BRUSSELS: Several European countries plus the United States, Turkey, Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia are to discuss measures to stop young fighters joining rebels in Syria.
Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet said her country, which took steps last year to address the problem, wants to step up cooperation with European partners and others.
“Coping with the return [of fighters], that is our main concern,” Milquet said, pointing to the presence of Al-Qaeda linked groups in Syria.
The European Union warned earlier this year that the number of young Europeans going to fight alongside extremist groups in Syria and countries such as Somalia and Sudan, was growing fast.
The fear is they will return home radicalized and well versed in the use of weapons and guerrilla tactics, posing a domestic security risk.
Milquet set up an informal ministerial group with France last year, bringing together officials from Britain, the Netherlands and Spain. The international group later met with U.S., Canadian and Australian officials.
Milquet said the next meeting, which will bring together nine European countries, would be held in Brussels May 8, with invitations extended to Syrian neighbor Turkey, together with Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 25, 2014, on page 8.