- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Restless Rice?

When the State Department yesterday announced the latest travel plans for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one reporter wanted to know about any “follow-up” trips not yet made public.

“Well, you know how restless she gets when she has an airplane at her disposal,” the reporter added with a chuckle. “Might she come back and have a cup of coffee and take off some place else that you can tell us about?”

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack replied, “We’ll keep you updated on our travel schedule.”

Miss Rice leaves Saturday for a visit to Indonesia and Australia.

“The secretary’s visit to Indonesia will focus on support for Indonesia’s democratic development,” Mr. McCormack said.

“The secretary will meet Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his ministers to discuss cooperation on preventing and responding to the threat of avian influenza and to review progress in Indonesia’s recovery from [the] tsunami.”

At least 169,000 people died or went missing in Indonesia when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck on Dec. 26, 2004.

In Australia, Miss Rice will meet with diplomats from Australia, India, Japan and South Korea, Mr. McCormack said.

Embassy still closed

The U.S. Embassy in Malaysia will remain closed today as diplomats continue to review the suspected terrorist threat that prompted officials to shut the compound last week.

“We are still evaluating the situation,” embassy spokeswomen Kathryn Taylor told Japan’s Kyodo News agency in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

She added, “At this point in time, there is still no final decision” about reopening the embassy for public business.

She said the embassy closed Friday because of “suspicious surveillance attempts” by several men who were lingering outside the embassy with cameras.

The embassy Web site (usembassymalaysia.org.my/) said, “On Dec. 30, the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was closed until further notice in response to a security threat against the Embassy.”

The message added that the embassy had “no information of specific, credible threats against private American interests in Malaysia.”

Kuala Lumpur police are investigating the U.S. Embassy’s report of suspicious behavior but said the men might have been tourists.

Police Chief Mustafa Abdullah said, “To us, it’s not a threat. It’s a misunderstanding. They could be tourists loafing around the area and carrying cameras.”

Warning in Kenya

The U.S. Embassy in Kenya yesterday renewed a warning to American citizens to beware of terrorist attacks in the East African nation.

The warning replaced an earlier one issued in July.

The embassy advised “American citizens to consider carefully the risks of travel to Kenya at this time due to ongoing safety and security concerns.”

It also noted the “limited ability of Kenyan authorities to detect and deter” attacks on Americans.

“The U.S. government continues to receive indications of terrorist threats in Kenya and elsewhere in eastern Africa aimed at U.S. and western interests,” the warning said.

“In particular, there is a continuing threat against westerners in the capital, Nairobi, and some locales in the coastal region. In addition to the terrorist threat, there are increasing incidents of criminal activity, including carjacking, robbery and other violent crime.”

U.S. embassies in Nairobi and the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, were the sites of near-simultaneous al Qaeda bomb attacks in 1998.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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