US officials defend warden messages and advisories

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New Delhi, Sep.14 (ANI): Despite New Delhi's dismay over the frequent warden messages which ask American citizens to not to travel to India , the US embassy officials have justified the advisories by saying that this is the medium to inform Americans about the way things work here.

Officials of the U.S embassy on Monday clarified that through such advisories and Warden messages, they explain their citizens where to go, whom to interact to with or not interact.

Minister Counselor for consular Affairs, James Herman said: "Warden Message is the way we communicate with American citizens. We generally get information from wider variety of sources Newspaper, TV, Law

Enforcement sources the we sit down and decide that does it meet the threshold then issue advisories and messages ".

Herman said: "Warden Messages are for the specific constituency and Advisory is for the wider audiences."

"It's a wide-ranging discussion, we hear a lot of viewpoints then we provide our view point and advisories are issued," said James Herman while speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration of a new consular facility in US embassy.

Whether it is Independence Day, outbreak of H1N1 virus or the onset of the festive season in India, the United States has frequently been issuing Warden messages, to advise its citizens about travelling to India based on inputs about probable terror attacks.

The latest Warden message issued by the American Embassy mentioned about the November, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks, saying: "It provided a vivid reminderthat hotels and other public places are especially attractive targets of terrorist groups."

The message also asked Americans to avoid travel to India during the festive season , monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and recreation venues.

Last year more than 800,000 Americans visited India and most of them didn't know anything about the place except Taj Mahal, said the US official.

The Government of India has time and again expressed displeasure over such advisories,as it views such advisories show a very grim image of 'an unsafe India'.

Experts believe that 26/11 Mumbai terror Attacks, in which more than six Americans were killed, is the reason behind such a prevalence of fear and cautiousness among the U.S authorities.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer inaugurated the new Consular section at the U.S. Embassy in the national capital.

The new facility is the result of a multi-year, 10 million dollar expansion that will permit the Embassy to provide faster and better consular service to the Indian community.

The new facility doubles the waiting area, triples customer seating, adds a modern queuing system to guide customers through the visa process and adds many new interviewing windows to ensure that visa applicants and American citizens can speak to an officer more quickly and in a convenient and modern environment, said a statement. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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