Europe condemns use of fake passports in Dubai plot

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Europe's governments today joined in condemnation of the use of fake EU passports in an assassination plot - but stopped short of naming Israel as the prime suspect.

A statement issued in Brussels after talks between EU foreign ministers came as Foreign Secretary David Miliband sought answers in a 45-minute private meeting with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman.

Afterwards Mr Miliband urged Israel to co-operate with a UK investigation: "The (Israeli) foreign minister said he had no information to give me at this stage.

"I am not going to make any accusations - the investigation is going to run its course."

Mr Miliband left the EU discussions to see Mr Lieberman - who had arranged to visit Brussels before last month's murder in Dubai of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh allegedly at the hands of Israeli Mossad agents.

The passport identities of six Britons, five Irish nationals, one German, and a French citizen were used by the hit squad to enter Dubai.

Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin also had private talks with Mr Lieberman today, without concrete results.

Mr Miliband was first rebuffed by Israel's ambassador in London last week who said he was "unable to assist" Britain's inquiries.

Then Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon insisted this weekend that his country was not involved.

Today's talks - a further step up the political pecking order - fared little better, according to the Foreign Secretary.

"I obviously went through the importance of the investigation the Prime Minister has announced and the importance we attach to Israel's co-operation with that investigation" said Mr Miliband.

"It is very important that people know that we continue to take this issue very seriously indeed. There is very real concern across Europe."

Mr Miliband said it was vital Israel's relations with Europe continued "on a clear and transparent basis", and it was also right that the passport issue was considered at a European level.

Today's resulting joint statement from the EU foreign ministers said: "The killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai raises issues which are profoundly disturbing.

"We strongly condemn the use of fraudulent EU member states' passports and credit cards acquired through the theft of EU citizens' identities."

Meanwhile the Israeli foreign ministry issued a statement insisting that there was no proof of Israeli involvement in the killing.

Without evidence, there was no need to react to the matter, it said.

Meanwhile, the six Israel-based Britons whose identities were stolen as part of the assassination plot have been told they will get new passports in a bid to end future problems linked to identity theft - not least the fact that they have automatically been placed on Interpol's wanted list.