News

USIS Washington 
File

20 February 1998

TEXT: SECSTATE AUTHORIZES DEPARTURE OF AMERICANS IN MIDEAST

(Personnel in Kuwait, Israel, West Bank and Gaza affected) (440)



Washington -- Secretary of State Albright has decided to authorize the
voluntary departure of U.S. Government dependents and non-emergency
personnel from U.S. Embassies in Kuwait and Tel Aviv and the Consulate
General in Jerusalem, State Department Spokesman James Rubin announced
February 20.


The Department also advises Americans to consider carefully all
available information before undertaking non-essential travel to
Kuwait, Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza. Those Americans already
there should consider their personal situation in determining whether
it would be prudent to depart, Rubin said.


Following is the text of the Spokesman's statement:



(Begin text)



U.S. Department of State

Office of the Spokesman



February 20, 1998



STATEMENT BY JAMES P. RUBIN, SPOKESMAN



Secretary of State Albright has decided to authorize the voluntary
departure of U.S. government dependents and non-emergency personnel
from U.S. Embassies in Kuwait and Tel Aviv and the Consulate General
in Jerusalem.


The Secretary made this decision as a precautionary measure in
response to individual concerns. It is not based on any intelligence
of an imminent threat against Kuwait or Israel or Americans in Kuwait,
Israel or in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.


However, the Department of State advises Americans to consider
carefully all available information before undertaking non-essential
travel to Kuwait, Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza. Those Americans
already there should consider their personal situation in determining
whether it would be prudent to depart.


This decision to allow voluntary departure does not change our basic
assessment of the possibility of attack by Iraq, which is that the
probability of Iraq resorting to the use of chemical or biological
weapons is remote, but cannot be excluded.


The government of Iraq continues to defy the international community
by refusing U.N. representatives full access to inspect and verify
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. In response, the United
States and other countries have dispatched military forces to the
Middle East. While no decisions have been made with respect to the use
of military force and while diplomatic options have not been
exhausted, the government of Iraq continues to refuse to comply with
U.N. resolutions.


Travelers should consult the Department of State's public
announcements, travel warnings, consult information sheets and
regional travel brochures and refer to the Department's advisories on
security awareness overseas. American citizens abroad are encouraged
to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for up-to-date
information on security conditions.


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