Kalam not exempted from security screening: US

India and the US are planning to hold talks on appropriate mechanisms for security screening of dignitaries in the wake of frisking of ex-President.

New Delhi: India and the US are planning to
hold talks on appropriate mechanisms for security screening of
dignitaries in the backdrop of frisking of APJ Abdul Kalam
at a New York airport with Washington informing New Delhi that
the former President was not exempted from security checks.

In a response to Kalam`s frisking at JFK airport,
official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said
it had immediately lodged a protest over the incident after
which the US wrote to the former President regretting the
episode and assured Indian government that it was taking
corrective steps to prevent such events.

Noting that Kalam was a regular visitor to USA and was
returning home on September 29 by an Air India flight from New
York, he said US authorities have explained that under
existing US regulation, former President Abdul Kalam does not
fall into the category of persons exempt from security
screening.

"However, US authorities extended usual courtesies to him
at the airport, including escort and private screening," he
said.

After former President Kalam had entered the aircraft,
US Transport Security Agency (TSA) agents requested Air India
staff for President Kalam`s jacket and shoes, reportedly as
these had not been checked according to the prescribed
procedure during the private screening, the spokesperson said.

Air India staff then sought the consent of Kalam, who
had by then removed his jacket and shoes and settled in his
seat, to hand them over to TSA authorities, he said, adding
these personal belongings of former President Kalam were
returned shortly thereafter.

"MEA had immediately lodged a protest over this incident
with the US side.

The US Government has promptly written to former
President Kalam expressing its deep regret over the incident
and has assured Indian authorities that it is taking
corrective steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents in
the future.

"The two governments are also planning to hold
discussions to explore appropriate mechanisms for facilitating
airport procedures for dignitaries, in accordance with
national regulations," he said.

PTI

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