Foreign embassies 'exaggerate' security demands: Egypt's FM

Ahram Online , Tuesday 9 Dec 2014

UK and Canadian embassies closed this week, citing security concerns

Canada's embassy in Cairo (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt will not accept any exaggerations in security demands around embassies, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday, following announcements that two diplomatic missions in Cairo had closed their doors for security reasons.

The decision of the British embassy to suspend work on Sunday, followed by a similar decision by the Canadian post, prompted fears and questions as to whether the missions have received militant threats.

The Australian embassy in Cairo updated its travel advice, warning of possible terrorist attacks against embassies in the capital. The post is operating normally, however.

Americans in Cairo were also advised to avoid locations that witness regular protest activity.

In response, Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Atti said the ministry "will not accept exaggerations in any (security) demands."

Speaking to the private satellite channel Dream2, Abdel-Atti said the British embassy, the first to close its doors, had asked for a 30-metre cordon off its back entrance.

"Security procedures in this area were reinforced … We expect these embassies to reconsider their decisions," Abdel-Atti said, adding that extra precautions will be "a burden on residents" in these locations.

The embassies maintain tight security arrangements, with roads to the embassies cordoned off by the police. The UK and Canadian embassies are located in central

Cairo's Garden City district, in the same area as the US embassy.

But since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year, Egypt has been the target of many terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds of security forces and sometimes harmed civilians.

Many western countries imposed travel warnings to Egypt amid Morsi's toppling due to the fragile security condition, but almost all the warnings were lifted over this summer.

Abdel-Atti said the decisions to close the embassies were "administrative precautionary measures" but should have been based on "clear good reasons."

"We are ready to listen to (security) remarks and positively react to them if they are logical," Abdel-Atti said. "Using the suspension of work as a pressuring tool to get more security procedures is unacceptable."

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