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US to reopen 18 missions except Lahore, Yemen

US to reopen 18 missions  except Lahore, Yemen
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The US would keep its consulate in Pakistan's Lahore city closed, even as it would on Sunday reopen 18 of its 19 diplomatic missions in the Middle...

Washington (PTI): The US would keep its consulate in Pakistan's Lahore city closed, even as it would on Sunday reopen 18 of its 19 diplomatic missions in the Middle East and North Africa, which were closed this week after intelligence intercepts from al Qaeda suggested an attack was imminent.

Besides Lahore, US embassy in Sanaa, Yemen will remain closed, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki has said."On Sunday, August 11, the Department of State will reopen 18 of the 19 embassies and consulates that were closed recently," Psaki said in a statement.

America had closed some two dozen embassies and consulates since August 4 as a precaution after it intercepted al-Qaeda's most serious threat in recent years to target its embassies."Our embassy in Sanaa, Yemen will remain closed because of ongoing concerns about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks emanating from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," she said.

"Our consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, which closed yesterday due to a separate credible threat to that facility, will also remain closed," Psaki said. She said the US would continue to evaluate the threats to Sanaa and Lahore missions and make subsequent decisions about the reopening of those facilities.

The US will also continue to evaluate information about all of its posts and to take appropriate steps to best protect the safety of our personnel, citizens travelling overseas and visitors to its facilities, Psaki added. On August 4, the US initially closed 22 diplomatic posts for the day and later extended closure of 19 missions till August 10.The State Department last week also issued a worldwide travel alert warning Americans that al-Qaeda may be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East.

Obama pledges surveillance reforms

Washington (PTI): US President Barack Obama has announced a review of its surveillance programs so as to bring transparency and win the confidence of the people, which has been shaken following the unauthorised leak of these secretive programs by Edward Snowden, a former CIA contractor. "All these steps are designed to ensure that the American people can trust that our efforts are in line with our interests and our values," Obama said.

"And to others around the world I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people," he said. Obama said the US laws specifically prohibit the Administration from surveilling US persons without a warrant. And there are whole range of safeguards that have been put in place to make sure that that basic principle is abided by, he said. Obama said he is mindful of how these issues are viewed overseas because American leadership around the world depends upon the example of American democracy.

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