World leaders have renewed their call for the better sharing of financial and other information to fight terrorism after the Paris attacks last month. And, at a Thursday meeting in New York, France is expected to press a country that it hasn't found cooperative: the United States.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are set to meet on the sidelines of a United Nations Security Council finance ministers meeting. It's the first time in the Security Council's 70-year history that member countries' finance ministers are meeting, ITV said, underlining the importance of using the global financial system to fight terrorists.
The U.S. has not responded to French requests for financial information on suspects after the Paris attacks in November, which left 130 dead, Reuters said, adding that the U.S. had declined to provide data on people linked to the January attacks, also in Paris, that left 17 dead in the Charlie Hebdo newsroom and a Jewish supermarket, saying French authorities didn't give enough information about the threat from the people they were seeking information on.
The information at issue is in SWIFT, a system banks use to send payment orders to each other, which the U.S. Treasury has access to. In 2010, the U.S. reportedly signed an agreement to share information linked to terrorism or suspected terrorists with the European Union (EU).
The U.S. wouldn't "dare" turn France down now because it is seeking information on very specific suspects, Reuters reported an unidentified French foreign ministry official as saying. If the U.S. declines, France wants the EU to set up a way to get information from SWIFT, the official said, pointing out that the system is based in Belgium and many of its servers are in Europe.
That could happen when EU leaders meet for the last time this year in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. Terrorism is on the agenda on Friday, EU President Donald Tusk said, in a press release, laying out the group's discussions.
"We will discuss the fight against terrorism," Tusk said. "The emphasis must be placed on better information-sharing so that our authorities can make full use of the available information in combatting the terrorist threat."
The summit will end Friday with leaders adopting "conclusions on Syria," Tusk said. Several EU countries are taking part in airstrikes against the ISIS terrorist group there.
The war between ISIS and Syrian President Bashar Assad -- and Western-backed forces also against Assad -- has made Syria the biggest source of refugees into Europe. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Europe are at odds with Russia, which backs Assad, and which they say is hitting the Western-backed rebels in Syria more than ISIS.
Syria is expected to come up when Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a press conference in Moscow, also on Thursday. Syria ties in with another item on the EU agenda: a discussion on the proposal to strengthen its border guard, Frontex.
"Our goal is clear: we must regain control over our external borders to stem migratory flows and to preserve Schengen," Tusk said, referring to the agreement that allows visa-free passage among member countries. While Germany has opened its borders to as many as 1 million refugees this year, some countries have tightened border controls to control the flow of migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
"The security of the EU's external border has until now been too low, with only 20% of refugees and migrants intercepted upon reaching the shores in the Eastern Mediterranean," Tusk said. "The protection of our external borders is not intended to scare off those who flee wars or persecution. Europe is a community of freedom and will always provide shelter for those in danger."