EU, US to discuss possible airline laptop ban Wednesday

EU, US to discuss possible airline laptop ban Wednesday

Brussels (AFP) - The European Union will hold high-level talks with the United States in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss a possible US airline ban on carry-on computers.

The US Department of Homeland Security sparked deep concern in Europe last week when it said it would soon decide on extending to European airlines a ban on eight mostly Muslim countries.

"The commission will host high-level talks at the political and technical level with the US authorities this Wednesday afternoon in order to jointly assess any new threats and work toward a common approach to address them," European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said at a press conference Monday.

Schinas said Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc took part in a conference call Friday with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to discuss the possible laptop ban.

But he could not say whether Kelly would attend the talks Wednesday.

A US ban on now ubiquitous laptops could cause havoc, with more than 3,250 flights a week scheduled to leave EU airports for the US this summer, according to industry data.

Some experts also say there is a security risk in putting them with checked luggage given the danger of their batteries catching fire.

In March, Washington banned passengers from eight countries in North Africa and the Middle East from bringing laptop computers, tablets and other electronic devices larger than cellphones as carry-on items.

Britain followed with a similar ban applying to incoming flights from six Middle East and North African countries.

The move, which requires passengers to put the devices into checked baggage, came amid concerns that jihadist groups were devising bombs disguised as batteries in consumer electronics items.

A bomb that blew a hole in the fuselage of a Somali airliner in February 2016, killing one person, is believed to have been built into a laptop computer carried into the passenger cabin.

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