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Cablegate: Vwp Biometric Certification Demarches

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS VIENNA 002987

SIPDIS

CA/VO/F/P FOR DLOPESDAROSA; CA/EX FOR SHARPER;
EUR/AGS FOR VVIKAMANISKELLER

PARIS, ROME FOR CONSULAR CHIEFS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CMGT PREL AU FR IT
SUBJECT: VWP BIOMETRIC CERTIFICATION DEMARCHES
DELIVERED

REF: A) STATE 162157 B) 111324 C) 125862 D) VIENNA
2165

1. SUMMARY: IN RECENT DAYS POST HAS RAISED THE POINTS
IN REF B AT VARIOUS LEVELS WITHIN THE AUSTRIAN GOVERNMENT.
OUR INTERLOCUTORS INFORM US THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR AUSTRIA
TO MEET THE OCTOBER 26 DEADLINE. THE AUSTRIAN FOREIGN
MINISTER BELIEVES THIS ISSUE WILL BECOME A MAJOR SOURCE OF
TENSION BETWEEN THE U.S. AND AUSTRIA DURING AUSTRIA'S
PRESIDENCY OF THE EU. POST IS REPORTING ON RESOURCE
NEEDS AND STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH THE INCREASED
WORKLOAD AS REQUESTED IN REF B BY SEPTEL. END SUMMARY.

2. POST HAS RAISED THE POINTS IN REF B AT VARIOUS
LEVELS IN RECENT DAYS. THE AMBASSADOR MET WITH AUSTRIAN
FOREIGN MINISTER PLASSNIK ON SEPT. 7 AND UNDERSCORED THE
LOOMING ISSUE. THE MINISTER EXPRESSED HER UNHAPPINESS WITH
THIS SITUATION AND SAID IT WOULD BE COME A MAJOR STRESS
POINT WITH THE U.S. DURING AUSTRIA'S PRESIDENCY OF THE EU
IN 2006. SHE IS LIKELY TO RAISE THIS ISSUE WITH THE SECRETARY
DURING HER UPCOMING VISIT TO WASHINGTON ON SEPTEMBER 9.

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3. POST ALSO RAISED THE MATTER WITH THE MFA'S HEAD OF
CONSULAR AND LEGAL AFFAIRS, AND WITH THE MOI'S BIOMETRIC
PASSPORT PROGRAM COORDINATOR. ALL OFFICIALS INFORMED
US THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR AUSTRIA TO ACCELERATE ISSUANCE OF
A DIGITAL PASSPORT. INSTEAD, AUSTRIA INTENDS TO AIM FOR
LEVEL II COMPLIANCE AS OF LATE SPRING OR EARLY SUMMER IN 2006
(TARGET: MAY 2006) WHEN IT WILL BEGIN CENTRALIZED ISSUANCE OF
FULLY ICAO-COMPLAINT BIOMETRIC PASSPORTS. THE MOI IS AWARE THAT
AUSTRIA WILL MISS THE DEADLINE AND IS RECOMMENDING ON ITS
PASSPORT WEBSITE THAT AUSTRIAN CITIZENS OBTAIN NEW
PASSPORT BEFORE OCT. 26.

4. POST HAS URGED THE GOA TO TAKE FURTHER STEPS TO ENCOURAGE
TRAVELERS TO OBTAIN PASSPORTS BEFORE THE DEADLINE. WE HAVE
ALSO ASSURED THE GOA THAT WE ARE TAKING STEPS TO COPE WITH
THE ANTICIPATED INCREASE IN VISA APPLICATIONS BY TRAVELERS
WITH PASSPORTS ISSUED AFTER THE DEADLINE (SEPTEL).

5. THE COUNTRY TEAM, INCLUDING PD AND FCS, WILL CONDUCT
OUTREACH TO INFORM THE TRAVEL COMMUNITY OF THE NEW REQUIREMENT.
WE NOTE, HOWEVER, THAT STAFFING SHORTAGES IN THE CONSULAR SECTION
(REF D) WILL MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR THE CONSULAR STAFF TO ENGAGE FULLY
POST URGES THE DEPARTMENT TO SEND TDY ASSISTANCE REQUESTED (SEPTEL)
BEFORE THE ACTUAL DEADLINE TO ASSIST WITH OUTREACH.

BROWN


UNCLASSIFIED

SIPDIS

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