MOVES to allow emigrants a grace period to secure their right of abode in the territory were welcomed by the Canadian Foreign Minister yesterday, who said it would relieve handover anxieties. Lloyd Axworthy said he was pleased by the announcement, which would give much-need relief to 'anxious' returnees scrambling back to the territory in fear of losing their right of abode. After meetings with Governor Chris Patten and Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa yesterday, Mr Axworthy said the news would greatly benefit Hong Kong's 150,000 Canadians with dual nationality, who are still uncertain about forgoing one passport. Beijing has warned it will not recognise those with dual nationality and will treat Hong Kong emigrants as Chinese nationals unless they declare their foreign nationality when entering after July 1. Mr Axworthy said the grace period 'is very important as it means a lot of the uncertainty can now be put to rest'. Although the move meant Canadian passport holders did not have to rush back, he warned there were still uncertainties over the length of the grace period, which he would only describe as 'flexible'. 'I can't tell you about [duration], that's for the authorities here to work out. But certainly in both exchanges, I came away with the impression there would be more than sufficient time for people to make their choice without dealing with sufficient pressure,' he said. Hong Kong authorities would reveal more details in coming weeks, he said. Those with duel nationality still had to make a choice and declare which passport or citizenship they would use, he said. 'They still have to declare their intentions to use their Canadian passport and Canadian citizenship [to receive consular services], however you don't need to be here by July 1 to do it,' he said. 'I think a lot of people were very anxious that this all had to be done within a very short period of time . . . [now] people should have enough time to work their own affairs out.' Mr Axworthy arrived from Tokyo on Friday night after meeting top Chinese officials. He flew back to Vancouver last night.