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US working out ways to avoid repeat of Shankar episode

world Updated: Dec 11, 2010 12:39 IST

Against the backdrop of the incident wherein Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar was patted down at an airport in Mississippi, the US State Department has said it is in communication with Homeland Security officials to work out ways to avoid such inconveniences to diplomats.

"We are in touch with the Department of Homeland Security. There may be ways in which we can improve communications so that officials at airports know when diplomats are coming and help to better facilitate their movement through security," State Department spokesman P J Crowley said at his daily news conference on Friday.

Crowley said he has been told that a formal complaint from Indian embassy is coming, but has not been received yet.

The Indian government has said that it is registering a formal complaint with the US on the last week incident during which Shankar, who was wearing a sari, was patted down at Mississippi airport.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has termed it as unacceptable while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also expressed her concern over the incident.

Shankar, so far, has not made any comment on the December 4 incident, which was first reported by a local Mississippi newspaper only this week.

"We have been told that a formal complaint is coming. I just don't think it's arrived yet," Crowley said when asked if the State Department has received a complaint.

"As we've said, and properly so, everyone from diplomats to ordinary citizens are screened prior to boarding airplanes. That happens here. It happens around the world. But certainly, there may be ways in which we can improve coordination so that this kind of situation will not happen again," he said.

Responding to questions, Crowley said diplomats like any other passengers are subject to screening. "But to the extent that ambassadors may, in some cases, wear traditional dress, if that can help TSA (Transportation) Security Administration) with its assessment of the risk that any passenger might pose to the airplane, that may be helpful information for them to know," he said.

"As the Secretary (Clinton) said yesterday if there's a way in which we can prevent misunderstandings or help TSA anticipate whatever screening requirements might be required, we're happy to help facilitate that. We're just looking to see if there's any way that we can improve this process," he said.