Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'It puts us at elevated risk': Baird

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OTTAWA -- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird encouraged Canadian travellers and diplomats in North Africa and the Middle East to exercise added caution Friday after the United States issued a major terrorism and travel alert for the region.

"It's not for me to discuss the nature of the elevated risk that causes them (the Americans) to take these decisions," Baird said.

"Having said that, when a close friend and ally has made this determination, obviously at a bare minimum it puts us at elevated risk, and we're encouraging a higher degree of caution."

Baird said Canada has no plans -- yet -- to close its diplomatic missions on Sunday, a regular work day in the region, as the U.S. has done.

But Baird said his deputy minister and director general of intelligence are monitoring the situation carefully in consultation with the U.S.

"Obviously in the run-up between now and Sunday, we'll continuously review the situation and take any action that we feel that is in the best interests of Canada."

Baird was responding to the U.S. decision Friday to issue a global travel alert, citing an al-Qaida threat.

Baird said neither the United Kingdom nor Australia had followed the U.S. lead and closed its missions, but he said Canadians in the region should be mindful.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2013 A20

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