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Making Progress on Enhancing Aviation Security

 Alexander WallnöferLast week, I was in Toledo, Spain, and Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with our European counterparts and aviation industry leaders on one of the Department of Homeland Security's major priorities: working with our international partners to strengthen aviation security standards following the attempted terrorist attack against Northwest Flight 253 on December 25th.

The attempted attack underscores that boarding a plane in one airport can give you access to almost any airport in the world. This means that we need a truly global approach to aviation security. While the failed bombing attempt took place on a U.S. bound flight, it involved at least four airports on three continents, and threatened the lives of citizens from 17 countries.

In Toledo, I found broad consensus on this point and a clear sense of urgency to take immediate action to strengthen security measures. Specifically, my European counterparts and I signed a joint declaration affirming our collective commitment to strengthening information sharing and passenger vetting, deploying additional proven security technologies, and bolstering international aviation security standards.

I found a similarly strong consensus in Geneva where I met with the leaders of the airlines that are part of the International Air Transport Association — which represents approximately 230 airlines and more than 90 percent of the world's air traffic. We agreed that government and the private sector must work collaboratively both to develop enhanced international security standards and–most importantly — to effectively implement them.

These meetings were the first in a series to bring about international agreement on stronger aviation security standards and procedures. Over the next few months, the International Civil Aviation Organization is facilitating several regional aviation security meetings where we will build on the progress we made in Toledo and Geneva.

Together, we can and will strengthen an international aviation system that, for half a century, has served as an extraordinary engine for progress and prosperity for the United States and around the world.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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