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US Describes Closure of Saudi Embassy a 'Prudent' Measure - 2003-05-20


The United States is closing its embassy and two consulates in Saudi Arabia for at least five days out of concern that further terrorist attacks might be staged against U.S. interests in that country.

The State Department says the move does not reflect dissatisfaction with Saudi security efforts in the aftermath of last week's suicide attacks in Riyadh which killed 34 people, including eight Americans.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the decision to close the embassy in Riyadh and the U.S. consulates in Jedda and Dharan is a "prudent" move in light of what he termed "credible information" that further terrorist attacks are being planned against targets in Saudi Arabia.

The United States is also evacuating diplomatic dependents and non-essential employees from Saudi Arabia, though spokesman Boucher said it is not a critical reflection on the Saudi government's security performance since the May 12 attacks at three housing compounds for Americans and other foreigners.

"The cooperation is ongoing. We've had solid cooperation from the Saudis, particularly with the investigation and since the very unfortunate bombing, I think real determination on both our parts to do everything possible. But the fact is we have a lot of people out there. It's difficult to make the protection perfect," Mr. Boucher said.

Mr. Boucher said while the investigation is not complete, last week's attacks "bore the hallmarks" of the al-Qaida terror organization.

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