US to shutter Middle East embassies, including in Israel, due to 'security concerns'

CBS News: Embassy closings tied to US intelligence on al-Qaida plot; State Department calls closings "precautionary steps."

By REUTERS
August 2, 2013 08:20
1 minute read.
US Embassy in Tel Aviv

US Embassy Tel Aviv 311. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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US embassies that would normally be open this Sunday - including those in Abu Dhabi, Baghdad, Cairo and Tel Aviv - will be closed that day because of unspecified security concerns, the US State Department said on Thursday.

CBS News reported that the embassy closings were tied to US intelligence about an al-Qaida plot against US diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries. CBS said the intelligence did not mention a specific location.

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"The Department of State has instructed certain US embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4th," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters at her daily briefing. "Security considerations have led us to take this precautionary step."

Harf declined to detail the "security considerations" or name the embassies and consulates that would be closed but a senior State Department official later told reporters they were those that would normally have been open on Sunday.

A quick search of the State Department website showed that these included several US missions in the Muslim world, including the embassies in Abu Dhabi, Baghdad and Cairo.

CBS News said US embassies would also be closed in Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

"The department has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations ... indicates we should institute these precautionary steps," Harf said. "The department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety."

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