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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Emotional Australian PM visits scene of London terror attack

Leaders discuss counter terrorism and post-Brexit trade deal

Theresa May and Malcolm Turnbull speak with a market trader during a visit to the scene of the London Bridge terror attack that left eight dead
Theresa May and Malcolm Turnbull speak with a market trader during a visit to the scene of the London Bridge terror attack that left eight dead

Australia’s prime minister said that he was left close to tears after meeting police officers who tried to revive an Australian woman killed in a terrorist attack last month in central London.

Malcolm Turnbull visited the scene of the June 3 attack with his British counterpart Theresa May before the two leaders later Monday discussed closer collaboration between the two countries to tackle home-grown and international terrorism.

Their talks included denying the use of the internet to radicalise, recruit and raise funds for extremist groups.

It followed discussions between world leaders last week at the G20 summit in Germany about stemming financial flows for terrorism, and follows repeated demands by the U.K. government for internet giants such as Facebook and Twitter to do more to identify and take down extremist content.

Turnbull told reporters that he did his best “not to burst into tears” after meeting the officers who had tried to revive Australian Sara Zelenak, 21, one of eight people killed in the attack at London Bridge.

Three extremists mowed down pedestrians on the bridge in a van before running through a popular bar and restaurant district stabbing revellers and passers-by with 12-inch knives. Two Australians among the multinational group of victims.

The three attackers, wearing fake suicide bomb vests, were shot and killed by police officers who arrived within eight minutes of the start of that attacks.

“When Britain is attacked by terrorism, we feel we are attacked as well,” said the Australian premier

“We say to these killers, to these terrorists that seek to change the way we live, we will not be cowed,” said Turnbull. “We won’t change the way we live. We will defy you and defeat you.”

Turnbull and May spoke with traders in Borough Market who told the politicians how staff had slammed down metal shutters and watched as the attack continued. The two leaders also went to the spot where the Australian nurse Kirsty Boden, 28, was killed after rushing to help those who were attacked.

May praised Ms Boden as one of the people who did not think of themselves “but went to help those who they saw in need”.

The June 3 attack was one of four within three months in the UK. Five people were killed in a similar-style attack on March 22 when a man mowed down pedestrians in a hire car before fatally stabbing a policeman outside parliament. Two months later, a suicide bomb attack on a Manchester venue after a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande killed 23 adults and children.

Following the London Bridge killings, an elderly man died when a van driver rammed a group of people close to a north London mosque on June 19 in what was seen as a retaliatory attack.

The two countries are part of an existing global intelligence-sharing network along with Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

Officers from the UK have also worked closely with the Australian authorities on setting up a system based on a UK model designed to identify suspicious financial flows linked to terrorist activity.

Turnbull’s meeting with May - who were contemporaries at Oxford University in the 1970s - comes as the UK also seeks to secure improved trading relationships as it prepares to leave the European Union in 2019.

Turnbull said that Australia was keen to seal a free trade deal with the European Union before Brexit, with a deal with the UK soon afterwards. “Australians are very fleet of foot. We don’t muck around,” he told reporters.