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Cablegate: Travel Warning - Lebanon

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O 192258Z MAY 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHFSI/DIR FSINFATC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
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RUCPDOC/ALL USDOC DISTDIR COLLECTIVE WASHINGTON DC
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RHMFIUU/NRC WASHINGTON DC//INFOSEC//
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RUCPCIM/CIM NTDB WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/COGARD INTELCOORDCEN WASHINGTON DC
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RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI IMMEDIATE 0507
INFO RUESBKC/ATO ASIA IMMEDIATE 1662

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 053343

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC PTER ASEC LE
SUBJECT: TRAVEL WARNING - LEBANON

1. This Travel Warning updates information on security
threats and ongoing political violence in Lebanon, and
informs U.S. citizens of current safety and security
concerns. The Department of State continues to urge that
Americans avoid all travel to Lebanon and that American
citizens in Lebanon consider carefully the risks of
remaining. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Lebanon
issued on May 13, 2008.

2. On May 7, 2008, violence broke out in Lebanese capital
of Beirut when Hizballah militants blocked the road
leading to Rafiq Hariri International Airport. Hizballah
fighters then pushed into areas of Lebanon where they had
not traditionally been prevalent, resulting in several
violent clashes. While the Airport road has since been
reopened, it is possible Hizballah militants will use the
same tactic in the future.

3. The U.S. is concerned about Hizballah's use of
violence to achieve political ends, coupled with its anti-
Western and anti-American rhetoric. The threat of
terrorist attacks against Western interests in Lebanon is
real. In addition to Hizballah, groups such as Al-Qaeda
and Jund al-Sham are present in the country and have
issued statements calling for attacks against Western
interests in the past.

4. Currently the American Embassy urges American citizens
not to travel to Lebanon; those already in Lebanon are
urged to consider carefully the risks of remaining in
Lebanon and review their travel plans now that air travel
services have resumed. U.S. citizens who plan to remain
in Lebanon despite this warning are advised to maintain
adequate supplies of food, water and other essential items
and minimize travel outside of their homes.

5. U.S. citizens traveling to Lebanon or resident in
Lebanon should be aware that the U.S. Embassy has limited
ability to reach all areas of Lebanon. The Embassy cannot
guarantee that Embassy employees can render assistance to
U.S. citizens in areas where there is limited government
control.

6. Landmines and unexploded ordnance continually pose
significant dangers throughout southern Lebanon,
particularly south of the Litani River, as well as in
areas of the country where civil war fighting was intense.
More than a dozen civilians have been killed and over 100
injured by unexploded ordnance following the armed
conflict in July-August 2006. Travelers should watch for
posted landmine warnings and strictly avoid all areas
where landmines and unexploded ordnance may be present.

7. United States citizens are responsible for arranging
commercial or private means of transportation to depart
Lebanon. For Americans, individual or small-group travel
out of the country remains the safest option. U.S.
Government-facilitated evacuations such as took place in
2006 occur only when no safe private alternatives exist.
Evacuation would be provided on a cost-recovery basis,
which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S.
government for the cost of the travel. The lack of valid
travel documents (U.S. passport or U.S. visa, as
appropriate) will slow the U.S. Embassy's ability to
provide assistance. Further information on the
department's role during emergencies is provided at
http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emerg encies/emerge
ncies_1212.html.

8. The Department of State considers the threat to U.S.
government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to

STATE 00053343 002 OF 002


require them to live and work under strict security
restrictions. These practices limit, and may occasionally
prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas
of the country. Unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S.
government employees and their family members requires
prior approval by the Department of State.

9. The Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias,
Beirut, Lebanon. Public access hours for American
citizens are Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00
a.m.; however, American citizens who require emergency
services outside of these hours may contact the embassy by
telephone at any time. The telephone numbers are (961-4)
542-600, 543-600, and fax 544-209.

10. American citizens may register with the embassy
online by visiting
https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs. Americans are
strongly encouraged to update their registration
information if it is no longer current. Information on
consular services and registration can also be found at
http://lebanon.usembassy.gov or by phone at the above
telephone numbers between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday
through Friday local time.

11. Updated information on travel and security in Lebanon
may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-
888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada or, from
overseas, 1-202-501-4444. Additional details can be found
in the Department of State's Country Specific Information
for Lebanon, and the Worldwide Caution, which are
available on the Department's Internet website at
http://travel.state.gov.

12. Minimize considered.
RICE

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