US, Canada boost security ties

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The Independent Online

US and Canadian safety chiefs vowed Tuesday to jointly combat organized crime and violent extremism in a bid to boost legal travel and trade across their shared border.

"Close cooperation and coordination between the United States and Canada is critical to the national and economic security of both nations," US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

Napolitano said she and her Canadian counterpart, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, were "committed to working together to combat transnational threats and facilitate lawful travel and trade on both sides of the border."

The pair met in Washington for the second of their formal biannual meetings, on the heels of three other rounds of talks this year.

In an effort to bolster trade and security, they agreed to streamline and harmonize border shipping, create new guidelines for maritime emergency cooperation, enhance efforts against human trafficking and increase cooperation to protect infrastructure and counter violent extremists.

Washington also announced it would join a biometric data sharing program focused on immigration information that already includes the participation of Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, with New Zealand expected to eventually participate.

"The data sharing helps uncover details about refugee claimants such as identity, nationality, criminality, travel and immigration history, all of which can prove relevant to the claim," explained Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney.

Napolitano said the two countries were on the cusp of completing a memorandum of understanding to share data on currency seized at the border to combat money laundering and disrupt the financing of criminals and extremists.

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