Thursday, October 9, 2014

News Article by AFP posted on November 11, 2003

News Article by AFP posted on November 11, 2003 at 14:13:00: EST (-5 GMT)*

Sudanese insist foreigners safe in Sudan despite US embassy closure
KHARTOUM, Nov 11 (AFP) -- Sudanese officials insisted Tuesday that their country remained safe for foreigners and they had heard of no threat against Americans here after the US embassy suspended operations for a week.
Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Mutref Siddeiq told Tuesday's edition of the official Al Anbaa daily that his government had no information about a threat against the US embassy in Khartoum.
"There is no threat to the American interests in Sudan," he said.
He added, however, that the security services "are vigilant in protecting foreigners in Sudan."
At least six policemen stood outside the embassy Tuesday in the western part of Khartoum, compared to one or two who are usually posted there, according to an AFP photographer.
The US embassy in Sudan said Monday it "will suspend normal operations as of November 12," noting it would also be closed on Tuesday for the Veterans' Day holiday in the United States.
"This action is the result of a credible and specific threat to US interests in Khartoum," an embassy statement said, without elaborating.
The mission also advised US nationals to be cautious and avoid gatherings of foreigners. A Sudanese source who asked not to be named said around 40 Americans live in Khartoum.
The US embassy is heavily fortified with strong walls and iron bars while a stretch of some 150 metres (yards) of the main Abdel Latif avenue is closed to all but pedestrians.
The fortifications were installed in the 1980s but the road was blocked off to traffic early this year.
In Cairo, visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Tuesday that the Sudanese authorities have been helpful.
The problem is "you have to be correct 100 percent of the time but the terrorists only have to be right once," he added.
"So we err perhaps on the side of caution but we made the decision we did. As I understand it from my telegrams this morning we're quite pleased what the Sudanese government has done in response," Armitage said.
In Khartoum, Kamal al-Obeid, the external relations secretary for the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), said meanwhile that "Sudan is a safe country where foreigners enjoy peace and security and are not subjected to any threat."
Obeid, quoted by the official SUNA news agency, called upon the US administration to "reconsider its policies in the region so that the American citizen feels safe."
The Khartoum embassy closure coincided with the shutting of the US mission in Riyadh, only hours before a car bomb attack in the Saudi capital killed 17 people.
The Riyadh attack was blamed on the al-Qaeda terror network.
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir's government has been trying to shed its Islamic militant image and improve relations with Washington, which since 1993 has maintained Khartoum on a list of states alleged to support terrorism.
But there is deep hostility in Khartoum and other Arab capitals towards the US occupation of Iraq and Washington's support for Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians.

*Note:  The Embassy released the notice that follows after the senior leadership considered information suggesting there was a pending bomb threat to US facilities.  We also discovered that an outside sewer might allow underground access to our building.
Press Release

The United States Embassy in Khartoum will suspend normal operations as of November 12. (The Embassy will be closed on November 11 for the national holiday of Veterans Day.) This action is the result of a credible and specific threat to US interests in Khartoum. We urge all US citizens in Sudan to exercise extra caution and to avoid gatherings of foreigners that may attract outside attention. The Embassy hopes to be able to resume normal operations next week.

The United States Embassy in Khartoum also wishes to express its appreciation for the strong support provided by the Sudanese authorities in confronting the present threat.


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