U.S. Tells Expats to Prepare to Flee

Friday January 24, 2003

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department is sending a cable to embassies around the world telling Americans abroad to be ready to leave their resident country quickly if for any reason they have to, a U.S. official has said.

The senior State Department official made no comment when asked if the cable was related to the possibility of a U.S.-led war against Iraq. He said the State Department has issued such reminders in the past and that there are often reasons U.S. citizens leave foreign countries in a hurry.

“There is a cable going out to all our embassies to ask them to send … messages to Americans … that tells them that every year there`s natural disasters, family emergencies and other reasons that one has to leave quickly and therefore it`s always a good idea to have prescription medicines, passports and important papers on hand,” the official said on Friday.

“We`re asking our embassies to remind Americans … to take normal preparations, routine preparations, to leave if for some reason, whatever it might be, they might have to,” he added.

Asked if he was saying that the warning was totally routine, he replied: “I didn`t say it was totally routine. I said we are doing this and that we have done it before. We thought it was appropriate to remind people to take appropriate precautions.”