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Mr. Wilkins explained that the border law is “still a work in progress.”

“I am committed to making the border work, just as much as Canada,” he said. “This is a vital interest to us. Once the WHTI is fully implemented, it will speed up trade and travel, not impede it.”

Passports will help border guards who now have to “assess thousands of different kinds of state-issued birth certificates and driver’s licenses,” he said.

“Rather than thickening the border, [WHTI] will make it smarter, modern, efficient and secure.”

Thanking Canada

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins used his speech at the University of Saskatchewan to thank Canada for sending troops to Afghanistan.

“We all owe Canada a debt of gratitude for its role in Afghanistan,” he said. “Thank you for volunteering to leave your homes and your families to carry liberty’s light to some of the darkest corners of our world.”

Canada has about 2,500 troops in the NATO mission and has rotated more than 15,000 through Afghanistan since the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban regime that sheltered Osama bin Laden.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail