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Border talks continue in the Atlantic region

GROTON, Conn. -- Security is still hindering trade at the New Brunswick-Maine border, which may mean both jurisdict...

GROTON, Conn. — Security is still hindering trade at the New Brunswick-Maine border, which may mean both jurisdictions will have to implement an increased use of technology to speed the flow of commercial traffic.

American ambassador to Canada, Paul Celluci, addressed the conference of New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers here Monday, insisting that despite very good relations between the two countries, the border remains highly secure since 9-11.

The ambassador was joined by his Canadian counterpart, Michael Kergin, in addressing the conference with basically the same message: eastern Canadian trade, of which the vast majority stays in New England, is vital to both regions’ economies.

Celluci and Kergin spoke of initiatives such as work on the St. Stephen-Calais border crossing and revolutionizing quick traffic crossings with systems such as NEXUS, which have already increased efficiency at New Brunswick-Maine borders while still maintaining vigilant security.

This was good news for Premier Bernard Lord, who said New Brunswick has felt the impact of the higher level of security since 9-11.

“There’s no doubt that 9-11 changed the reality and no one can dispute that fact. But I believe that at the regional level and local level, premiers and governors have a role to play to ensure that there is a mutual understanding that we promote co-operation and we realize that we benefit collectively from having an open border.”

The premier supports an increased use of technology at the border, a discussion he initiated two years ago with Celluci.

“We had talked about the need to look at some of these issues on a continental basis and using technology to reduce waiting time at the border. There has been work between our federal government and their federal government to make some of these things happen. We are supportive of those efforts as long as they reduce wait times.”

Lord, who co-chaired the conference with Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland, said border security and trade were two issues that both countries had in common, agreeing to a resolution that would see Canada and the U.S. attempt to co-ordinate security efforts across the region.

The resolution said that public security officials from each provincial and state jurisdiction would participate in a meeting of the northeast homeland security directors next year in Quebec.

The premiers and governors also agreed that police, security and emergency management officials on each side of the border would work closely to share information and intelligence on security, terrorism and organized crime, conduct joint training exercises, co-ordinate emergency plans and aim to protect infrastructure together.

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