The father of missing Madeleine McCann had a “productive and interesting” meeting with US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today to discuss efforts to tackle child abduction, a family spokesman said.
Gerry McCann and the family’s campaigner Justine McGuinness requested the meeting in Washington DC to find out about America’s “more advanced systems” to track down missing children.
Ms McGuinness told the Associated Press: “We’re here to find out exactly what happens in America, because we believe the systems in the States are more advanced than systems in Europe.”
The meeting was part of a four-day fact-finding visit to the US by Mr McCann to learn about the work of specialist agencies in preventing child trafficking and sexual abuse.
He and his wife, Kate, have mounted a vigorous campaign to find four-year-old Madeleine since she disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3.
Earlier today he met experts from the National and International Centres for Missing and Exploited Children.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the centres’ president Ernie Allen, Mr McCann said: “Obviously my focus just now is on trying to get our daughter back. That’s the key thing.
“But I think there is a lot of goodwill out there at the minute, that we might be able to leave something tangible for all children, and I think most people agree that these sorts of crimes should not happen and the perpetrators have to be pursued wherever these crimes are performed.”
He added: “She knows very much that we love her and we won’t stop searching for her.”
The National and International Centres for Missing and Exploited Children were established in 1984 and 1998 respectively after six-year-old Adam Walsh was murdered after being snatched from a department store in Florida in 1981.
The case led to a major review of child abduction cases in the US and legislation passed last year – the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act - was named in his honour.
The Act significantly strengthens America’s nationwide sex offender registration system and introduces harsher penalties for child sex offenders.
Mr Allen today described child abduction as a “global problem” and said the centres had been looking at ways to assist the McCann family.
Tomorrow, Mr McCann and Ms McGuinness have meetings scheduled with US senators, congressmen and a senior member of First Lady Laura Bush’s staff.
Mrs McCann remained in Portugal with the couple’s two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie.
Meanwhile, posters of Madeleine are being displayed at booksellers in more than 200 countries around the world thanks to Harry Potter author JK Rowling, whose final instalment of the boy wizard’s adventures was published on Saturday.