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Leaders of Maryland, Virginia, D.C. confer


WASHINGTON - The governors of Maryland and Virginia met with Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday, as part of their continuing effort to foster regional cooperation on issues ranging from the environment to tourism to gang control.

After the meeting, Williams, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed an agreement creating the Interstate Air Quality Council, to help bolster the progress in improving air quality in the area. The secretaries of the environment and transportation from the three governments make up the council, and will work to help meet new federal ozone standards and other benchmarks.

The three leaders, who have met on three other occasions, also are working on a plan to join forces on issues related to the Chesapeake Bay, in hopes of attracting a larger infusion of federal cash to help protect the delicate ecosystem.

While the conversations yesterday ran from homeland security to the co-existence of major league baseball teams in Washington and Baltimore, the three also talked about working together to combat drug- and gang-related violence.

"We have made it a policy statement as a group that we wish to not just have the level of cooperation that we've achieved, but also to measure what we're doing both as states, as a district and as a region," said Ehrlich, a Republican. "We know the gangs are here, and we want to truly identify remedies, options - policy options - that we can implement in our respective states, and as a region, to obviate this increasingly dangerous problem."

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