Ridge, Powell back extensions of biometric passport deadline

International Civil Aviation Organization

State Department Secretary Colin Powell and Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge urged Congressional lawmakers today to extend the October deadline for accepting foreign passports embedded with biometrics from visa-waiver countries by another two years.

The extension would give the 27 nations in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) more time to produce passports with biometric identifiers, which the secretaries described as a technologically complex process. VWP countries are not dragging their feet but have found that, after 17 months, they need more time to meet the deadline, Powell and Ridge said. None of the larger countries in the waiver program will be issuing biometric passports by October, Powell said. Japan and the United Kingdom, for instance, don't expect to start until late 2005. Others may not do so until sometime in 2006, Powell said.

"It is in our interest to ensure global interoperability

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