War on Terrorism

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

International Aviation Security

Secretary Napolitano Meets with Western Hemisphere Officials in Mexico on Ways to Enhance International Aviation Security

February 17, 2010 - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today traveled to Mexico City at the invitation of her Mexican colleague, Interior Secretary Fernando Francisco Gómez-Mont, to meet with officials from North, Central and South American and Caribbean and the International Civil Aviation Organization to discuss ways to bolster global aviation security measures and standards.

“The international dimensions of the Dec. 25 attempted terrorist attack and the international threats posed by violent extremists require an international response to bolster global aviation security measures,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Today’s meetings with representatives from countries across the Western Hemisphere underscore our ongoing commitment to working together to enhance and strengthen the ways we protect the global aviation network from terrorists.”

Following today’s meetings, Secretary Napolitano and the participating officials issued a joint declaration on a way forward to strengthen the international civil aviation system through enhanced information collection and sharing, cooperation on technological development, and modernized aviation security standards—viewable at http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/international/gc_1266421175567.shtm.

While the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not conduct screening at foreign airports, Secretary Napolitano is committed to strengthening coordination with international partners to implement stronger and more effective measures to protect the integrity of the global aviation network.

In Mexico City, Secretary Napolitano stressed the need for collaborative international action to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft during meetings with ministers and representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama—the second in a series of major international meetings intended to build consensus on strengthening global aviation security.

Secretary Napolitano also emphasized the Obama administration’s commitment to strengthening information sharing with international partners about terrorists and other dangerous individuals who pose a threat to the global aviation system. In 2009, DHS, the Department of Justice, and the Department of State worked together to forge agreements to prevent and combat crime with Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal by allowing for the exchange of biometric and biographic data to bolster counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts while ensuring privacy protections.

In Mexico City, Secretary Napolitano met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon to discuss both aviation and border security collaboration. She also joined Secretary Gómez-Mont to sign a letter of intent to coordinate closely on a number of mutual aviation security initiatives—including deploying enhanced airport screening technologies, strengthening passenger information sharing, and ensuring passengers have proper travel documents.

In January, Secretary Napolitano met with her European counterparts in Toledo, Spain, resulting in a similar joint declaration between the United States and the European Union on a way forward to strengthen the international civil aviation system.

Secretary Napolitano also traveled to Geneva to meet with members of the International Air Transport Association—which represents approximately 230 airlines and more than 90 percent of the world’s air traffic—as part of the Department’s efforts to work with the airline industry to ensure all flights to the United States meet both international and TSA security standards now and in the future. She also met with officials from the International Civil Aviation Organization in Geneva on these issues.

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