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TOLEDO, Spain—U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sought Thursday to allay concerns in some European Union countries over the use of body scanners in airports, saying that as the technology develops they will be less intrusive.

“Some of the privacy issues that have been raised are dealt with effectively by the new iterations of the technology,” Napolitano told a press conference after meeting with EU interior ministers.

She denied the U.S. was pressuring Europe to deploy the scanners. “These meetings were not about the U.S. requiring anything,” she said. The meeting did not deal with scanners specifically but rather with broader issues on advancing aviation security, she said.

But she stressed that better screening technology was crucial to protecting travelers from terrorism.

Al-Qaida “is using its best minds against the international aviation system,” she said. “We must do no less.”

Napolitano had been expected to press European countries to follow the Obama administration’s lead in ramping up aviation security after the failed plot to bomb a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.

But the EU is divided amid concerns over whether the devices invade travelers’ privacy and pose health risks.

Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, Interior Minister for Spain, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said the EU needed to reach a common position on scanners.

“This is a debate that we have to carry out in Europe,” Rubalcaba told the press conference. “It is reasonable that we address it not in a hurry but without delay either.

“What the failed attack in Detroit shows is that al-Qaida and its affiliates move,” he added. “They try to dodge our security system. It’s clear that they are seeking this and we have to be faster.”

Spain and Germany are among the countries that have expressed reservations about scanners. Britain, the Netherlands, Italy and France have said they will either start installing them, add more or use them on a trial basis.

Source: AP via The Atlanta Journal

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