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Canada warns some to avoid United States

By MARTIN STONE

MONTREAL, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Canada has issued a rare travel advisory warning citizens born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria to avoid traveling to the United States.

The advisory says Canadians from those countries and others should consider carefully whether to travel to the United States "for any reason" following the enactment of a U.S. law stipulating those travelers be photographed and fingerprinted.

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When pressed Wednesday by Canadian journalists, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "I think you have to say that our goal is to make our country safer. That's the same goal that Canadian authorities have. We do have an enormous border, an enormous relationship with Canada and Canadian citizens, and we try to do that in a way that meets our joint interests of making North America safer, and there's an awful lot of cooperation. We're looking at all the different ways to do that."

The Canadian government also cautioned Canadians of Pakistani, Saudi Arabian or Yemeni origin that they may also be singled out for special attention from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, media reports said.

The Canadian advisory comes in the wake of the deportation of a Syrian-born Canadian to Syria by U.S. immigration authorities when he arrived at New York's JFK airport en route from a visit to Tunisia to his home in Canada.

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Maher Arar, a 32-year-old engineer with dual Canada-Syria citizenship, is now being detained in a Syrian jail after U.S. allegations that he has links to terrorist groups.

Canadian authorities say the legislation, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, passed a year after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, discriminates against certain Canadian citizens.

Canadian officials said the law infers Canadians of particular national origins are "aliens who present the highest risk of involvement in terrorist organizations."

Canada has filed a protest with Washington.

Media reports said the United States has indicated there may be some flexibility in the law to exempt Canadians, but the question is still under discussion.

The National Post newspaper quoted Canadian Foreign Affairs spokesman Reynald Doiron as saying, "We are pushing the matter with the Americans to ensure the best option. We would like to have this eliminated from the books."

He added, "We have made strong representations to the United States at a very senior level to raise our concerns."

(With reporting by Eli J. Lake at the State Department)

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