Mon, May 26, 2003 - Page 6 News List

British, German diplomacy resumes


Britain and Germany reopened diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia on Saturday after shutting them in the wake of bloody suicide bombings in the capital Riyadh that killed 34 people last week.

But European and US warnings remained against non-essential travel to the Arab kingdom, which has arrested suspected supporters of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda over the May 12 attacks on residential compounds housing foreigners.

"The embassy is open for business as usual," said a British Foreign Office spokesman.

The spokesman said the government's advice to Britons thinking of traveling to Saudi Arabia remained unchanged.

"We are asking people to avoid non-essential travel to Saudi Arabia," he said.

Germany said it had reopened the consular sections of its Riyadh embassy and its consulate in Jeddah.

Britain's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Derek Plumbly, said on Wednesday the threat of terror attacks in the country was of a "completely new order" and of a greater scale than ever before.

The US also closed its embassy in Riyadh.

Suicide bombers also struck the Moroccan city of Casablanca last week, killing more than 40.

On Friday, European nations, Russia, the US and Japan pledged new joint action to fight al-Qaeda as Britain erected concrete barriers round parliament and the US issued precautions against a possible truck bombing.

The US has raised its domestic terror alert status to orange -- the second-highest level -- and many other countries have stepped up warnings to citizens since the bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

Al-Qaeda or groups linked to it have not carried out any successful bomb attacks on the countries that it targets since the September 11 attacks in the US in 2001.

Instead there have been attacks in Kenya and Bali and, then last week, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

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