updated 1/12/2005 11:20:29 AM ET 2005-01-12T16:20:29

Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Wednesday the United States should put the fingerprints of citizens traveling abroad on their passports.

“If we’re going to ask the rest of the world to put fingerprints on their passports, we ought to put our fingerprints on our passports,” Ridge told a room full of homeland security experts at a morning speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Asked what advice he would give to newly nominated Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, Ridge added: “Be aggressive. ... It’s a lot easier to negotiate with your allies if you’ve already done what you’re asking them to do.”

Ridge made the assertion just before he was to take off on a trip to build security ties with the European Union.

The United States recently began fingerprinting and photographing citizens of 27 countries — including nations that are staunch allies — when they arrive for short visits. The idea was to close a perceived national security gap. Critics fear that fingerprinting could violate personal privacy rights.

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