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U.S. Department of State

Remarks with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Ottawa, Canada
November 14, 2002

[ ... ]

QUESTION:   Speaking of the mostly unguarded, unwatched border, some Canadians have had some difficulty there when it was being watched and being guarded.

Mr. Graham, did you raise the case of Mr. Jalbert who is in jail in Maine?  Also, another Canadian who is in custody in Guantanamo Bay, the 16‑year‑old Omar Khadr?

If both of you could respond generally to this whole issue about profiling and what is being done at the border to make sure that country of origin is not an automatic trigger to Canadians getting fingerprinted or photographed.

FOREIGN MINISTER GRAHAM:  Right.  That is a very good question.

I want to go back to Colin's opening remarks about the nature of our border and the nature of our friendship and I want to say that we are working on these issues in that spirit of cooperation and friendship of which he spoke.

The issue of NSEERS, which is the technical term for the way in which instructions were given for entry and exit permits of the United States, clearly we were very concerned with the fact that people were being picked out of lines and profiled on the basis of their place of birth.

I am very pleased to say we worked that out, as neighbors do, and we said "Look, this doesn't make sense for the two of us as countries of immigrants to chose the place where you are born, which might not even be your nationality in some respects, you just happened to be born there.  How could that determine whether or not you are a terrorist?"

The United States has been very responsive on that and we have worked our way through that and we will continue to work through that.

As Colin pointed out, with the number of crossings we have and the tremendous extent of our relationship, we are bound to have individual problems.  We will continue to work with those individual problems on that basis.

In terms of Mr. Jalbert, I am very pleased to say that I am informed that the prosecutor in Maine has withdrawn the appeal and therefore the matter is in the hands of the INS and we believe that the INS will shortly be able to deal with this in a way that he will be able to leave the United States and we will be able to resume.

We want to do that, because this was a case that was reflective of the types of things we can get into if there is a problem between us.  I mean, that is a gas station he went into in which the exit ramp goes into Canada.  That is the way Canada and the United States are, we are joined that way and we will continue to work together, the Secretary and myself and both our departments, to make sure that we resolve those types of issues.

In terms of Mr. Khadr, the Secretary has given me his personal assurance that we will have access to Mr. Khadr as quickly as is conceivably possible and we will be following that up in the weeks to come.

SECRETARY POWELL:  I really have nothing to add.  He gave a complete answer.  We discussed both of those issues as well as ‑‑ the two individual issues -- as well as NSEERS.

The Minister and I have been in close touch for a couple of months over the NSEERS program and some of the difficulties that we encountered with the program and we have made it as simple as we can.

There are still some issues we will work on, but I can assure you we are doing everything we can so that we respect Canadian citizenship and we are not seen as profiling anyone, but doing what we believe is necessary to protect ourselves and to protect Canadian citizens.  I hope that we will continue to work in the same spirit that we have been working.


QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, regarding the Iraq resolution, a number of U.S. officials, including Deputy Secretary Armitage last night, have said that operative paragraph 8 applies to the no-fly zones.  Other members of the Security Council disagree.

Do you agree that it applies to the no-fly zones and would the U.S. argue that any no-fly zone violations in this period constitutes a material breach?

SECRETARY POWELL:  I think what we are interested in seeing is a new spirit of cooperation, if there is going to be one, from Iraq that will allow us to get the inspectors in and for them to do their job.

When we were working on the resolution we said that Iraq should not take any action that would be a hostile act against any member state that is implementing current UN resolutions.

One could argue whether or not the no‑fly zone represents all of the members of the Security Council agreeing to the no‑fly zone as a way of implementing the UN resolution or just a judgment that was made by the United States and the United Kingdom.

But I think we ought to see this in terms of whether or not Iraq is intending to cooperate.  If they were to take hostile acts against United States or United Kingdom aircraft patrolling in the northern and no‑fly zones, then I think we would have to look at that with great seriousness if they continued to do that.

So we will be watching all of these things and making judgments as we go along.

I don't want to say here and now what we might do in the event of a particular incident, but the resolution I think is pretty straightforward and clear with respect to the spirit we hope Iraq will enter into in trying to find a peaceful way forward.

QUESTION:  Mr. Powell, countries with visa waivers are being asked to update their passports if they want to go into the United States so they include biometric information.  Could you tell us whether Canadians will need to have some sort of special identification in the future enhanced with biometrics?

For Mr. Graham, can you tell us or confirm to us that your department is in talks with the United States about some sort of future citizenship card enhanced with biometric information?

SECRETARY POWELL:  I really can't get into the specifics or details of that because it really falls under the responsibility of the departments within our government.

What we are trying to do is to make sure we don't cut down the flow of citizens going back and forth between our two countries, while at the same time protecting both of our populations from individuals who might wish us harm.

It is not just the United States that is in the sight right now of terrorists.  As you saw from this tape, which may or may not have come from Usama bin Laden but has come from someone who is threatening the civilized world again, Canada is just as vulnerable as the United States and both of us, I think, have an obligation to our citizens to do what we can to protect our citizens.

If we find that there are new methods of identification that are sensible, that do not restrict the flow of individuals going back and forth, we certainly would consider it, but only in the closest consultation with our Canadian colleagues.

FOREIGN MINISTER GRAHAM:  Thank you very much.

[ ... ]


Released on November 14, 2002