White House: Overseas airports can avoid electronics ban if they beef up security

White House: Overseas airports can avoid electronics ban if they beef up security
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The Trump administration will not impose a laptop ban on U.S.-bound flights if overseas airports step up their security, officials said Thursday.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly, speaking during a Capitol Hill forum, said that the U.S. is working to raise security around the globe in order to respond to evolving aviation threats.

Terrorists have been aggressively pursuing innovative methods to smuggle bombs onto commercials plans, which is why the DHS banned large electronics on the cabins of flights departing from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa.

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“We have come up with a plan to raise routine aviation security… The bar will be raised much, much higher than it is today,” Kelly said.

“My desire is that all airports raise their minimum security to the level where it should be, and if they do, last point of departure passengers can travel with electronics.”

The administration has been weighing whether to expand the security protocol to include more airports, and has been engaged in high-level talks with European officials, the airline industry and other stakeholders, who have all urged the administration to consider alternative options.

Kelly said that if airports can beef up screening protocols, then the administration won’t have to prohibit large electronics — a goal that stakeholders in Europe appear to be working towards.

The U.S. is sending technical experts to Brussels next week to continue the discussions, Kelly said.

He added that the 10 airports currently under the laptop ban, which Kelly described as having a “very real threat” level, can come off the list if they enhance security to the level that the U.S. deems necessary.

“My hope is that they will come off the protocol, by simply doing the kinds of things that we’re talking about in terms of raising aviation security,” Kelly said.