Kerry in Brussels to offer US aid against jihadist threat

Kerry in Brussels to offer US aid against jihadist threat

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is having meetings with Belgian and European Union leaders in Brussels, expressing the condolences of the United States for all those who had their lives cut short or were injured in Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels.

A senior U.S. official confirmed that two Americans were among the more than 30 people killed.  Kerry did not provide any details, other than to say one of them was a personal trainer, on her way back to the United States for Easter.

Kerry said the U.S. and coalition members have a message for anyone who would kill and wound innocent civilians going about their everyday lives:  “We will not be deterred. We will come back with greater resolve, with greater strength, and we will not rest until we have eliminated your nihilistic beliefs and cowardice from the face of the Earth.”

Kerry met with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel at the prime minister’s residence.  Michel thanked Kerry for his presence, and vowed to do his best to work with the U.S. and his European partners to prevent any future attacks.

Speaking with VOA and other reporters at a round table in Brussels, he declined to place blame on the Belgian government for not thwarting the attacks, saying, “Carping four days after the attacks is inappropriate.”

Kerry said the U.S. and Belgium had already scheduled a number of counterterrorism training sessions.

Belgian authorities continue to search for clues to how the attacks happened even amid heightened security and an investigation of the Brussels-based militants that attacked Paris in November.

U.S. officials have told reporters that the brothers who carried out Tuesday’s attacks, Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui, were on the terrorism watch list in the United States.

Belgian federal prosecutors say six people have been detained for possible links to the attacks. The prosecutors said the raids that led to the arrests took place in central Brussels, Jette and Schaerbeek, the neighborhood where police found a stash of explosives earlier this week in an apartment used by the bombers.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also said a French national was arrested Thursday and found to be in an “advanced stage” of planning a terror attack. Cazeneuve said the man was arrested early Thursday, and said police went back to search his home later that day. French officials said later that he has connections to the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks of November 13.

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