Good afternoon. I want to thank Interior Minister Schäuble and Justice Minister Zypries for their hospitality during our visit and for their dedication to maintaining the close relationship between the United States and Germany.
The cooperation between our two countries on matters related to law enforcement and counterterrorism has been substantial, and citizens of both of our countries have been safer as a result.
I am honored by the opportunity to join you today for the initialing of the bilateral agreement between Germany and the United States that permits access to biometric data and spontaneous sharing of data about known and suspected terrorists.
This is a great achievement, both for its practical benefits and for what it symbolizes. This agreement gives us important new tools to combat terrorism and to fight transnational crime.
Each of our countries will have access to the criminal fingerprint databases of the other -- in the first instance simply to determine on a yes - or- no basis if there is evidence in those databases that could be helpful in criminal investigations and prosecutions. If such evidence is located, the agreement also sets forth procedures for obtaining it through lawful processes that also ensure appropriate protection for personal data.
The agreement further provides a mechanism for sharing information about known and suspected terrorists, so we can prevent them from entering our countries and attacking on our people. But beyond the important practical value of this agreement, it symbolizes the joint resolve of Germany and the United States to fight terrorism and transnational crime.
The United States is deeply grateful that strong cooperation from our international partners has helped us reduce violent crime and prevent major terrorist attacks. The values we share with Germany and our mutual interest in protecting our citizens makes us even more determined to deepen our cooperation with Germany. We look forward to implementing this important agreement in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation.
We believe also that this agreement may serve as a model for similar bilateral instruments with the other European Union Member States in the very near future. Europe and the United States face common threats in terrorism and transnational crime. The agreements we initial today are a powerful reaffirmation that we will stand together to meet these challenges.
Terrorists who threaten our way of life see no barriers in borders between countries, neither should our efforts to stop them.
I'd like to thank Ministers Schäuble and Zypries for the strong leadership they have shown on these issues, and the German people for their friendship.