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India-US ink agreement on security procedures

January 21, 2010 20:46 IST

An agreement to standardise various security procedures between India and the United States was signed on Thursday, which will, among other things, lay down parameters for deployment of sky marshals in flights between the two countries.

Issues relating to transfer of technology, including full body scanners and X-ray systems, and training were also discussed at a two-day meeting of a Joint Working Group of officials of the US Transportation Security Administration and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security in New Delhi.

The Indian side requested that dual screening of baggage on US-bound flights be dispensed with, an official spokesperson said.

This would involve the US side surveying the security operations at the originating airports, she said, adding that India would facilitate an early visit by the TSA to enable this process.

Two Memoranda of Understanding were signed -- one on the deployment of sky marshals and the other for cooperation in airport technical visits, marking the beginning of continued cooperation on security issues.

The spokesperson said the JWG would meet periodically to take forward the issues agreed upon.

"The launch of the US-India Aviation Security Working Group demonstrates our increasingly close cooperation on mutual commercial and security interests, matters of critical interest to the people of both our countries," US Ambassador Timothy J Roemer said in a statement.

Besides deployment of sky marshals or air marshals, the issues taken up at the meeting included technical cooperation and training in best practices as also visits to promote Indo-US technical cooperation.

The concept of an Aviation Security Force and adoption of best practices in security with cooperation of both sides came up during discussions. Indian side sought American cooperation on source identification of human body scanners as well as X-ray baggage systems.

Talks were also held on bringing about conformity with aviation security provisions established by the United Nations body, International Civil Aviation Organisation.

It was agreed that while carriers flying out of India to the US were required to comply with the Emergency and Security Directives of the TSA, such directives essentially should be routed through BCAS and would apply reciprocally.

A US embassy release said the Joint Working Group on security was conceived at the 2009 US-India Aviation Partnership Summit in Washington and in accordance with the bilateral goals of the Indo-US Air Transport Agreement signed in 2005.

"The purpose of the working group is to build upon the strategic partnership between the US government and the government of India to enhance international civil aviation security. The group envisions subsequent meetings to be hosted alternatively by each country," it said.

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