U.S. to reduce staff at Amman embassy due to security concerns
Washington said it would allow its non-essential diplomats in Amman to leave Jordan amid heightened security concerns following last month's killing of a US diplomat.
In addition to implementing a so-called "authorized departure" program, under which non-emergency diplomats and the families of all US embassy employees in Jordan may leave at Washington's expense, the State Department advised Americans to re-evaluate any plans to visit the kingdom.
"All US citizens in Jordan are urged to consider their personal security and to take those measures they deem appropriate to ensure their well-being, including consideration of departure from the country," the department said, according to AFP.
"The decision results from the overall assessment of the security situation in the wake of the assassination of the USAID employee, Laurence Foley, in late October," said deputy spokesman Philip Reeker.
"We determined that it was a prudent measure to give some of our personnel and their family members this option to depart post should they decide to do so in light of the security concerns there."
Reeker said those eligible would have 30 days to decide whether to take advantage of the offer. The State Department later incorporated the decision into its travel warning for Jordan, which advises Americans to "carefully consider the risks of travel to Jordan."
He added there had been no new specific threats to Americans since Foley's death October 28, but noted that the security situation in Jordan was "uncertain."
Reeker noted that Secretary of State Colin Powell called Jordanian King Abdullah II on Friday to inform him of the decision. US ambassador to Jordan Edward Gnehm also spoke to King Abdullah on Friday to explain this move.
Jordanian Minister of State for Political Affairs Mohammad Adwan said Amman "regretted" the step but maintained it did not reflect on the "excellent" ties between Jordan and the United States.
"We can appreciate the American concern for the safety of their diplomats and citizens all over the world but we strongly believe that Jordan is still one of the safest and most secure countries in the world that protects all its foreign guests." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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