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MoU makes US flight path easy

India and the United States formally signed an agreement on having sky marshals on-board flights between the two countries on Thursday. Tushar Srivastava reports.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2010 23:34 IST
Tushar Srivastava

India and the United States formally signed an agreement on having sky marshals on-board flights between the two countries on Thursday.

As first reported by the HT, the Memorandum of Understanding was inked following a two-day meeting of the Indo-US Joint Working Group (JWG) of Aviation Security.

Another MoU — for cooperation in airport technical visits — was also signed. Terming them “landmark” agreements, civil aviation ministry said these would mark the beginning of new cooperation on security matters.

“It was agreed that while carriers flying out of India... were required to comply with the emergency and security directives of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), such directives should be routed through the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS),” the ministry said.

This, sources said, was agreed upon after Delhi strongly took up the issue of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam being frisked by officials of an American airliner last April.

Sources said it was made clear to the US that in India, “we are the boss and foreign airlines need to follow the guidelines laid down by the BCAS”.

“The Indian side requested that dual screening of baggage on US-bound flights be dispensed with. This would involve the US side surveying the security operations at the originating airports. The Indian side will facilitate an early visit by the TSA to enable this process,” the ministry said.

The launch of working group demonstrated increased cooperation on commercial and security interests, US ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer said.