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Leaders willing to work together on border requirements

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Strict US border identification requirements became a focal point of conversation as Prime Mini...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Strict US border identification requirements became a focal point of conversation as Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his first visit to the White House as Canada’s leader.

Harper voiced his concern about the Jan. 1, 2008 deadline on legislation to require Canadian travellers to carry a passport, or other secure documentation, when entering the US at land crossings.

The legislation was passed in 2004 in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which require all citizens entering the US to carry a passport or secure identification. The act is to be enforced at airports beginning Jan. 1, 2007 and land crossings will follow suit a year later.

US officials announced earlier this year the intention of introducing a wallet-sized PASS card to its citizens as a less costly alternative to obtaining a passport. Harper explained there has been frustration from Canadian officials who have not been provided with the technology which is planned to produce the new cards.

Business and tourism groups on both sides of the border have also been critical of the initiative claiming it will severely reduce the number of cross-border travellers.

President George W. Bush replied to the concerns with a willingness to delay the legislation. However, he explained the end decision will be up to Congress and whichever way they decide to go he promised to work with the Canadian government to make the law work.

Bush also noted that the US Senate has passed legislation to delay the security requirements until June 2009, but the House of Representatives have yet to make a decision.

— with files from the Canadian Press and CanWest News Service

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