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Canada Seeks Better Border Security

October 24, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Canada’s foreign minister asked the White House on Wednesday to restart initiatives streamlining border security that had been put on hold after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In a private meeting attended by the Canadian ambassador and top officials of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Foreign Minister John Manley also told Tom Ridge, director of President Bush’s homeland security office, that Canada sympathizes with American fears about anthrax-tainted letters and is bracing for the same.

``There’s no reason to believe we would not be a target as well,″ Manley told reporters in the White House driveway.

Manley said he spoke with Ridge about proposals to expedite traffic across the border by jump-starting a frequent-traveler program that was stalled after suicide hijackers attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

At a time of tightened budgets, it only makes sense to shift resources away from checking regular travelers who are well known to border patrols as having legitimate cross-border business, Manley said.

``If we can take the frequent travelers ... out of that mix, then the resources that are left can be dedicated to those who are more likely to cause problems,″ he said.

In response to reporters’ questions, Manley firmly defended his country against any connection to the Sept. 11 attacks and said that, given what investigators know so far about the hijackers’ movements, ``there’s a clear indication the trail leads to Germany.″

``There is no information existing that indicates that any of the individuals entered the United States from Canada. Until the final story is written, you can never say this as an absolute certainty ... but there is, at this point, no information that any entered from Canada,″ Manley said.

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