Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano met with Portuguese Interior Minister Rui Pereira, Justice Minister Alberto Costa and Foreign Affairs Minister Luís Amado today and signed a Preventing and Combating Crime (PCC) Agreement as part of her weeklong trip to Europe and Kuwait. The agreement allows for the exchange of biometric and biographic data to bolster counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts in both nations while emphasizing privacy protections.
"Collaborating with other countries to confront borderless threats is critical to the security of the United States," said Secretary Napolitano. "This agreement between the United States and Portugal strengthens our international efforts to combat terrorism and ensure lawful trade and travel. Throughout this week and in the months ahead, I look forward to working with our international allies to find innovative ways to counter violent extremism, expand information sharing and increase security cooperation."
Under the agreement, the United States and Portugal will use state-of-the-art technology to share law enforcement data, including fingerprints and other biometric information, to better identify known terrorists and criminals during investigations and other law enforcement activities. The agreement also provides guidelines for sharing vital information to help prevent serious threats to public security and ensure the protection of citizens in both countries.
Over the past year, the United States has strengthened ties with twelve international partners by signing similar agreements to prevent and combat crime with Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece and the eight new entrants to the Visa Waiver Program. These arrangements, negotiated by the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State, prevent individuals who commit serious crimes in one signatory country from continuing illicit acts in another and reaffirm the United States' commitment to the reciprocal partnerships that advance the safety and security of the United States and its allies.
Secretary Napolitano began her trip over the weekend in Ireland, where she toured the new DHS secondary screening facility set to open on July 29 at Shannon Airport. Yesterday, she met with Irish Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to discuss airport security and the implementation of a landmark Preclearance Agreement between the United States and Ireland to allow DHS to process commercial aviation travelers and baggage at Irish airports. These operations will expand to general aviation travelers later this year and will begin phase-in at Dublin Airport by July 2010.
While in Ireland, Secretary Napolitano also met with Justice, Equality and Law Reform Minister Dermot Ahern to discuss a future information sharing agreement between the U.S. and Ireland similar to that signed today with Portugal.
In the United Kingdom, Secretary Napolitano met with Home Secretary Alan Johnson and Transportation Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis to further coordination on issues such as countering violent extremists, information sharing, air travel security and cybersecurity.
Following today's meetings in Portugal, Secretary Napolitano will continue on to Kuwait and Spain, where she will visit DHS personnel working abroad and meet with her counterparts to discuss initiatives to improve transnational cooperation.
In Kuwait, Secretary Napolitano will tour U.S. Coast Guard cutters and greet Coast Guard personnel stationed in the region.
In Spain, Secretary Napolitano will meet with President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, Economy Minister Elena Salgado, Justice Minister Francisco Caamaño Domínguez and other officials to discuss transatlantic collaboration and pressing international concerns such as narcotics trafficking and terrorism.