-General Efthimios Mitropoulos and US Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge met at IMO Headquarters on Friday, 14 January 2005 to discuss maritime security issues of mutual concern.
During the meeting, Mr. Ridge expressed appreciation to IMO and its Member States for the rapid and comprehensive international response to maritime security issues following
the September 2001 attacks in the United States, including the adoption of the special measures to enhance maritime security which entered into force on 1 July 2004 as part of the SOLAS Convention.
Mr. Mitropoulos referred to work carried out by IMO in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) on seafarer identification. He stressed the importance of treating seafarers as partners in the maritime security chain and highlighted the need for them to be able to take shore leave after working on board ships for long periods.
Mr. Ridge drew attention to the need for authentification and verification of documents relating to individual seafarers and his concerns about fraudulent documentation. He stressed that the United States is looking for ways to move the process forward and said that he would share the Secretary-General's concerns with Washington agencies.
The IMO Secretary-General welcomed the input of the United States and, in particular, the United States Coast Guard to the work of IMO on maritime security and other issues and he urged the United States to make further contributions to the International Maritime Security Trust Fund in order to support technical assistance projects relating to maritime security around the world.
In closing the meeting, both men agreed to keep open channels of communication between their respective organizations in order to further progress matters of common interest.