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EU launches plan to track, disrupt foreign jihadis who are heading to the Middle East

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BRUSSELS — The European Union is launching a program with countries in North Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans to disrupt the networks of jihadis heading to Syria and Iraq.

EU foreign ministers said Monday they are drawing up action plans with Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon and Western Balkan states "to dissuade and disrupt foreign terrorist fighters' travel as well as to manage their return."

PHOTO: Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, center, speaks with, from left, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu and Malta's Foreign Minister George Vella during a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. European Union foreign ministers have thrown their weight behind fresh diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine as they assess whether to expand the EU sanctions list targeting separatists and Russian nationals. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, center, speaks with, from left, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu and Malta's Foreign Minister George Vella during a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. European Union foreign ministers have thrown their weight behind fresh diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine as they assess whether to expand the EU sanctions list targeting separatists and Russian nationals. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

More than 3,000 Europeans are known to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to operate as foreign fighters for Islamic extremists.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, meanwhile, called for the long-delayed introduction of a European system for exchanging air passenger travel information.

Otherwise "we will not have the means that we need to follow foreign fighters more closely as they travel abroad," he said.

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