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Philippine Officials Criticize Australia, Canada for Embassy Closures - 2002-11-29


Philippine officials lashed out at the governments of Australia and Canada for closing their embassies in Manila because of security concerns. Officials say they should have been told of threats against the embassies.

Philippine National Security Advisor Roilo Golez on Friday criticized the two governments for not adequately warning Philippine authorities about the reported threats against their embassies in Manila. He said their move Thursday was "not the act of a friendly nation."

"I did not anticipate this because we are in close contact with them, and in fact they get briefings from me on indications, and we have been telling them that there are no direct threats to their embassies," said Roilo Golez.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople told the Australian and Canadian ambassadors in a meeting late Thursday that the closure is giving his country a "black eye" in the international community.

The Australian and Canadian embassies as well as the European Union representative office shut down Thursday after receiving reports of "specific" terror threats from Islamic extremists. They remained closed Friday.

Australia and Canada also warned their citizens to defer travel to the Philippines.

Philippine police increased security in the Makati commercial district where the embassies are located and established a special unit to guard foreign diplomatic missions.

The Philippines has experienced a number of terrorist attacks in recent months, including four bombings last month that killed at least 10 people. Some of these attacks were blamed on the Abu Sayyaf - which Washington links to the al-Qaida terror network.

Manila has been a strong supporter in the international war against terror and has intensified efforts to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf and other local terrorist groups.

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