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Daily Archives: June 28, 2009

US loosens security rules for diplomats in Saudi

The United States has eased tight security controls on its diplomats in Saudi Arabia, acknowledging an improvement in security four years after Riyadh squelched an Al-Qaeda campaign of attacks.
But restrictions remained tighter than in most other countries as Washington warned in a statement on Friday that "there is an ongoing security threat due to the continued presence of terrorist groups" in the country.
The announcement on the State Department's travel warnings website said diplomats at the US consulate in the eastern city of Dhahran would be able to have their families live with them.
Diplomats in the capital of Riyadh would be able to have adult family members and non-school age children with them.
However, diplomats attached to the consulate in Jeddah, the target of a 2004 attack that left five people dead, would still not be able to have relatives with them.
While not mentioned in the statement, Washington is also allowing diplomatic staff to remain in Saudi Arabia for two years, rather than the one-year tour that had been standard for several years.


G8 focus on stabilising Afghanistan, Pakistan

The Group of Eight leading powers turned their attention yesterday to stabilising Afghanistan and Pakistan in talks aimed at shoring up faltering efforts with some 30 regional players.
With two months to go before presidential elections, Afghanistan is battling a Taliban insurgency and has been flooded with massive waves of Pakistani refugees fleeing an army offensive in the Swat valley.
G8 foreign ministers said in a joint statement that they were "firmly committed" to supporting Afghanistan and Pakistan as "they confront grave security, humanitarian, counter-narcotics, terrorism and economic challenges."
The foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan joined their counterparts from Central Asia, officials from aid organisations and the G8, but key player Iran decided to stay away amid turmoil at home over its contested election.
Talks focussed on countering drug trafficking by strengthening border security in Afghanistan, which produces more than 90 percent of the world's opium, most of it grown in the troubled southern Helmand province.