EU demands talks with US over possible airline laptop ban

BRUSSELS: The EU is seeking urgent talks with Washington over a possible US ban on carry-on computers on European flights to the United States, an EU source said Friday.

The European Union has not yet received a response from Washington to its request, the source said.

The US Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday it was close to a decision on extending to Europe an existing ban imposed on eight countries, as the busy summer transatlantic travel season looms.

Airlines flying to the United States from European airports that would be involved in implementing the policy have been given a warning that it is under consideration, the department said.

A spokesman for the European Commission said that "the United States and the European Union have a long-standing and fruitful cooperation on security" and the commission had approached the US "to continue to pursue that cooperation".

In March, Washington banned passengers on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in eight countries from carrying on board laptop computers, tablets and other electronic devices larger than cellphones.

The affected airports are in Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East.

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

The move, which forces passengers to put their devices into checked baggage, came as counter-terror officials developed concerns that jihadist groups were devising bombs disguised as batteries in consumer electronics.

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