US says travel advisory for safety of US citizens


New Delhi : The US Monday sought to downplay the travel advisory warning of terrorist attacks across India during the coming festival season, saying it has been done to ensure the security of a large number of Americans who visit the country.

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“We do take care of American citizens in India. It (the advisory) is to keep them informed about where to go and when to go,” James Herman, minister counsellor for consular affairs at the US embassy, told reporters here.

Around 800,000 Americans visited India last year.

The advisory was issued “after a general discussion among key members of the US embassy staff”, based on information from a variety of sources about the threat perception to American citizens, he explained.

Herman was speaking at the opening of a new upgraded consular section at the embassy here that will smoothen the process of getting Americans visas and make it quicker. The consular section was formally inaugurated by US ambassador Timothy J. Roemer.

“The November 2008 attacks in Mumbai provided a vivid reminder that hotels and other public places are especially attractive targets for terrorist groups. US citizens are urged always to practice good security, maintain a heightened situational awareness and a low profile,” the state department said in a travel alert on India posted on the embassy website.

The US has posted such advisories and what it calls warden messages to caution its citizens in India from time to time about the threat to their lives while staying in India.

India has objected to such travel alerts in the past, but the US has contended that it was just doing its duty to protect US citizens.