U.S. Closes Embassies in Arab World Till Next Week

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Thursday October 5 12:59 PM ET U.S. Closes Embassies in Arab World Till Next Week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States closed all its embassies and consulates in the Arab world on Thursday for four or five days for fear of violent demonstrations in support of Palestinians fighting Israeli forces.

The State Department said the missions would stay closed until after the Columbus Day holiday, which some observe on Sunday and some on Monday.

Thousands of Syrians stoned the U.S. embassy in Damascus on Wednesday in protest against the killing of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. Demonstrations against Israel and the United States, its ally, have taken place in other Arab cities.

The State Department said in a public announcement that U.S. Embassy employees had been told not to send their children to school during the four-day or five-day period.

U.S. diplomatic missions in other regions may also restrict their services to the public, the department said. The Tel Aviv embassy and the Jerusalem consulate will be open for essential services only, an official said.

The announcement advised Americans ``to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness to lessen their vulnerability.''

``Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail from unfamiliar sources with caution,'' it said.

The government issued a ``worldwide caution'' on Wednesday advising Americans everywhere to take care because of possible violence in support of the Palestinians.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 05, 2000

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