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Security Still Tight at Western Embassies in Southeast Asia - 2002-09-12

Security at Western embassies in several Southeast Asian nations remains tight one-day after the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Indonesia remained closed for the third day.

Officials say the U.S. embassies in Indonesia and Malaysia will remain closed indefinitely.

The facilities in Indonesia, including the U.S. consulate in the port city of Surabaya, were ordered closed Tuesday because of what was termed "a specific and credible threat".

Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce declined to provide details of the threat, but indicated it was of a regional nature. The ambassador met with Indonesian Vice President Hamzah Haz, who has complained that the embassy closure hurts his country's image abroad.

The U.S. embassies in Cambodia and Vietnam reopened after being closed Wednesday.

The British embassy in the Philippines was evacuated after a bomb threat, but officials said they found nothing. Britain reopened its missions in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Malaysia, but says consular activities at its facility in Singapore are still suspended.

Australia's embassy in East Timor remained closed for a second day and officials say Canberra's facilities in Cambodia and Singapore will operate on a restricted basis.

Alexander Downer, the Australian foreign minister, says the threats to Canberra's diplomatic facilities are linked to the threats the United States embassies received. He spoke at a press conference in New York Wednesday.

"The fact that we have made the decision to close our embassy in East Timor is a reflection of the strength of the feeling, the degree of concern we have about the information we have received," he noted. "The information comes from credible sources."

Memorial services were held in most of the region Wednesday to commemorate the victims of the September 11 attacks in the United States. A service in Jakarta was cancelled as part of the U.S. embassy closings.

In Burma, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi paid her respects at a ceremony that leaders of the country's military government also attended. It was the first time the opposition leader appeared at the same event as government leaders since being released recently from house arrest, although she did not meet the officers.