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US Re-Opens Diplomatic Missions in Saudi Arabia - 2003-05-25

The United States reopened its diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia, after a four-day closure prompted by warnings that terrorist attacks could be imminent.

The United States closed its embassy in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and its consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran after receiving what it said was credible information that more attacks were imminent, following suicide bombings in Riyadh earlier this month.

Embassy spokesman Michael Macey said although the missions are open for business, it does not mean the terrorist threat has gone away. "We still consider there to be a possibility for further terrorist actions. There is a consistent threat here which is why we have continued the strongly worded advice we are giving people. We are open, we need to provide services, but also our non-emergency personnel are leaving the country," Mr. Macey said.

U.S. diplomats said the embassy is sending home about 30 non-essential staff workers as a precautionary measure following the May 12 attacks on expatriate housing compounds that killed 34 people, including eight Americans. U.S. and Saudi officials blame the Al-Qaida terrorist network for the blasts.

Mr. Macey said the U.S. embassy's strict security warning is still in effect in Saudi Arabia. "The embassy is strongly advising American citizens in the kingdom to use extreme caution and to remain vigilant. There is also a travel warning in effect that advises American citizens to defer non-essential travel to Saudi Arabia. And we continue to counsel private American citizens currently in Saudi Arabia that they should continue to evaluate their own security situation and consider departing Saudi Arabia," he said.

The U.S. mission re-opening follows similar moves by Britain and Germany on Saturday. Both countries closed their embassies in the wake of the Riyadh bombings.

U.S. diplomats say progress has been made in the investigation, but declined to give details. Saudi Arabia says it has increased security in the country to track down those responsible and to prevent further attacks.