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Germany to deploy troops inside borders

by Allan Hall in Berlin

Germany is considering its first deployment of armed troops inside its borders since Adolf Hitler to seal off farms and guard its borders against foot-and-mouth as fears grow that a case confirmed in France could be herald a global epidemic.

Voicing national fears that police and border patrols alone cannot cope with keeping out a virus that threatens to devastate national livestocks, the conservative CDU party is calling for troops specialising in chemical and biological warfare to be dispatched immediately, as are ministers in states near France including the Rhineland-Palatinate. The defence ministry in Berlin said today: "We cannot rule out such an operation."

Nearly 4,500 animals have been slaughtered in preventative measures in the country and French meat swept from shelves and burned.

Portugal has slaughtered a herd of stock after finding foot-and-mouth antibodies in two cows imported from the Netherlands. Agriculture minister Luis Capoulas Santos said: "We're not taking any risks."

Both Austria and Russia today banned all meat imports from France following its first confirmed case of foot-and-mouth disease. Imports from Britain are already suspended because of Britain's own declaration of a "controlled area".

The United States has said that anyone coming from Britain and the EU, and their luggage, cameras, computers and mobile telephones would be scrubbed with disinfectant. The US and Canada has also banned EU imports of meat, livestock and dairy products. The US has been free of the disease since 1929.

Following bans by Australia on all meat, livestock and dairy products from the EU, similar bans are going up across Asia. In Japan, all passengers from London and Europe who have visited farms, are ordered to sterilise their shoes. Australia is considering similar measures. Japan also has suspended imports of pork and livestock from France, having earlier banned livestock from Britain.

Yesterday, Singapore - where French and British beef was banned last year because of BSE - banned meat and dairy imports from France and Argentina. New Zealand and South Korea have banned imports of EU livestock and meat. The Philippines banned imports of livestock from Britain last month. China has banned even-toed mammals such as cattle and sheep and their products from Britain. Taiwan has banned imports of EU meat and dairy products.

Associated Newspapers Ltd., 15 March 2001 Terms and Conditions This Is London

-- Swissrose (, March 15, 2001

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