State Department urges Americans to leave India

Saturday, June 1, 2002

WASHINGTON -- The State Department on Friday urged the 60,000 Americans in India, including hundreds of U.S. diplomats and their families, to leave the country because of a risk of conflict between India and Pakistan.

"The fact that both of these countries possess nuclear weapons is part of our thinking," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

Still, the department stopped short of ordering nonessential U.S. diplomats and their families to depart. "At this point, this is voluntary," Boucher said.

"Tensions have risen to serious levels and the risk of intensified military hostilities between India and Pakistan cannot be ruled out," the department said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed concern "that the Indians might find they have to attack."

Powell said he had no immediate plans to go to the region, "but it's always a possibility."

There are about 600 U.S. diplomatic workers and dependents in India, Boucher said. Those considered essential were not advised to leave.

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