Praful Patel Didn't Ask for an Apology for Chicago Incident'

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Sep 30 (IANS) US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says Indian Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel did not ask her for an apology over being detained at Chicago airport but they did discuss how to make air travel safe.

"Well, I actually met with the minister yesterday. We had a good conversation" in Montreal Tuesday on the sidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meet, she told CNN Wednesday when asked about the Chicago incident.

"And I think that -- you know, I think it gives confidence that no one is exempt from screening or random screening. That's part of the process. Unpredictability is part of the process," she said.

"On the other hand, when you have known experts from other countries, known higher officials from other countries we need to make sure that they can get through the airport smoothly," Napolitano said.

Asked if she had apologised to the minister for being detained and "really grilled" at the Chicago's O'Hare Airport Monday on way to Montreal, she said: "He (Patel) didn't ask for an apology, but we did talk about what is needed in both countries to make sure that air travel remains safe."

Praful Patel had gone to Chicago on a personal visit to meet his son enroute to Montreal. He was quizzed at the airport as he shares the same name and date of birth with a person who is on the blacklist of immigration authorities. He was travelling on a regular passport and not the diplomatic ones that ministers use. He was later allowed to let leave the airport and enter the US.

Napolitano said global aviation has been much safer since the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt by an underwear bomber due to the series of security measures taken by the US and other countries.

"I think global aviation has been safe. Our goal is to keep it so. And to make sure that we are adapting where we need to in light of the fact that the threat keeps evolving and adapting," she said.

"So, when you have 190 nations of the world in one place reaching a global consensus on not only a set of standards to be achieved but also a set of regional summits that will take place over the next 18 months, and really a commitment to make sure this global aviation system which helps knit us all together remains safe, that's really a historic achievement," she said.



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