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Intel Sharing at Heart of U.S., Europe Talks on Laptop Ban

The intelligence behind plans to broaden a U.S. ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from Europe took center stage on Wednesday as American and European officials met to discuss the looming decision.

The White House has defended the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss with Russian officials an Islamic State group terror threat related to the use of laptops on aircraft. European Union officials say they have not been briefed on the threat.

The goal of Wednesday’s talks is to “create a consultation, create a sharing of information,” said an EU diplomat, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing.

Banning large electronics would create logistical chaos on the world’s busiest corridor of air travel — as many as 65 million people a year travel between Europe and North American on nearly 400 daily flights, many of them business travelers who rely on the devices to work during the flight.

The ban would dwarf in size the current one, which was put in place in March and affects about 50 flights per day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East.

The International Air Transport Association, which represents 265 airlines, on Tuesday wrote to both the EU and the U.S. Department to oppose the proposed ban, which it said would deeply affect the economy and cause the equivalent of $1.1 billion in lost time to passengers.

There is also the question of the relative safety of keeping in the cargo area a large number of electronics with lithium batteries, which have been known to catch fire. The association proposed more in-depth pre-flight screening, rather than forcing passengers to give up their electronics.

Nonetheless, airlines have said it is merely a matter of time before the ban is put in place, but the prospect has alarmed officials in the…

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