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US Travel Warning to India is Eased - 2002-06-26

The United States announced Wednesday, an easing of its travel warning concerning travel by Americans to India. The move reflects a step-down in India-Pakistan tensions over Kashmir and is in line with a similar policy move earlier by Britain.

Only three weeks ago, the State Department had warned Americans against traveling to India and strongly urged U.S. citizens in the country to leave.

But with the threat of war in the region now apparently diminishing, it has issued a replacement advisory that drops the admonition to leave India and only advises Americans to "defer" non-essential travel to the country.

The move was announced by State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, who said while security conditions in South Asia are still tense, they have improved since the time of the last travel warning, when U.S. officials were expressing concern about the threat of full-scale hostilities.

"While tensions between India and Pakistan remain far from relaxed, they have recently eased somewhat,"he said. "So we felt an adjustment in travel warnings was in order to reflect the recent positive steps taken by both countries to back away from an imminent escalation of armed conflict. Never-the-less we still advise Americans to defer non-essential travel to India. We also remind Americans that the terrorist threat in Pakistan remains very high, and unchanged."

A new travel advisory for Pakistan warns Americans, as before, to defer all travel to the country. It strongly urges those now there to depart in light of the June 14 car bombing at the U.S. consulate in Karachi, and what is termed "ongoing concern" about possible further terrorist actions.

The travel policy for Pakistan has been essentially unchanged since late March, when five people including the wife and daughter of a U.S. embassy staff member, were killed in a grenade attack on a church in the diplomatic district of Islamabad.

Non-essential U.S. officials and diplomatic dependents were ordered to leave Pakistan at that time. A voluntary departure program for U.S. dependents in India remains in effect despite the more relaxed travel notice.