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EU, UK take precautions after US security alert

Britain said on Friday that it will close its embassy in Yemen on August 4 and 5 due to "increased security concerns", after the United States announced a number of its embassies would also shut on Sunday. "We are particularly concerned about the security situation in the final days of Ramadan and into Eid," the Foreign Office said in a statement, referring to the Muslim holy month which ends on Wednesday evening.

The Foreign Office did not say there were any specific threats but said that it constantly reviewed the security of staff and its embassies.

Germany's diplomatic outposts in Yemen were also to remain closed on Sunday and Monday out of security concerns, a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Berlin told dpa late Friday. He did not give further details or background.

The German Foreign Ministry in Berlin did not change its travel warnings for German citizens, saying security measures were always adapted to the current security situation. "We are in close contacts with our allies," the spokesman said.

The U.S. State Department said on Thursday American embassies that would normally be open this Sunday - including those in Abu Dhabi, Baghdad and Cairo - would be closed that day because of unspecified security concerns.

On Friday, it also issued a global travel alert.

The European Union is taking "all necessary precautions" after the United States said it would close some embassies on Sunday because of security concerns, a spokesman said.

"We are aware of the move by the U.S. and we are in contact with our U.S. counterparts," European Commission spokesman Alexandre Polack said. "Delegations of the EU in the affected region are liaising with U.S. embassies."

The EU had no immediate comment on an announcement by the U.S. government that it was issuing a worldwide travel alert, warning U.S. citizens about the "continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa."

The State Department said on Thursday that American embassies that would normally be open this Sunday - including those in Abu Dhabi, Baghdad and Cairo - would be closed that day because of the unspecified security concerns.

The chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, said on Friday al Qaeda appeared to be linked to the threat that prompted the closure of the embassies.

At this stage, Polack said, the EU had no evidence of any threats that specifically concerned EU overseas delegations "but we are taking all necessary precautions." He gave no details.

Another EU official said he was not aware of any plans to close EU delegations on Sunday.

The EU's diplomatic service has 3,400 staff and 139 delegations around the world.

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