US, EU in urgent discussions on pitch to expand laptop ban

European governments alarmed at a proposed expansion of the U.S. ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to planes from the EU are holding urgent talks Friday with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Chief among the concerns are whether any new threat prompted the proposal, said European Commission transport spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, who confirmed the talks and said the EU had no new information about a specific security concern.

U.S. officials have said the decision in March to bar laptops and tablets from the cabins of some international flights, mostly from the Mideast, wasn't based on any specific threat but on longstanding concerns about extremists targeting jetliners.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security organized a telephone conference to take place Friday afternoon with "key European partners" France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy. It will be a ministerial level call. The French attendee is expected to be Louis Gautier, secretary general for defense and national security.

A French official with direct knowledge about Friday's meeting said France planned to push back against the measure, saying there was no information to suggest a significant increase in the terror threat. Friday marks the final working day of the current French administration.

The official spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.

Jenny Burke, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, said no final decision has been made on expanding the restriction.



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