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Britons warned to leave Pakistan

The UK has issued a warning to Britons to leave Pakistan
The UK has issued a warning to Britons to leave Pakistan  

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Britain is advising its nationals in Pakistan to leave unless it is necessary for them to stay and is warning people not to travel to the country until further notice.

Fearing that any U.S. action in Afghanistan following last week's terror attacks in New York and Washington will trigger tension in neighbouring Pakistan, Foreign Office officials in London said the region should be avoided.

It also said it was withdrawing "non-essential" consular and embassy staff.

A FO spokesman said: "In view of the security situation, travel to Pakistan should, until further notice, be avoided, unless there are compelling reasons for it.

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"British nationals now in Pakistan will wish to consider whether it is necessary for them to stay.

"Those still in the North West Frontier Province, Baluchistan and the northern areas are strongly advised to leave.

"We remind British nationals that visas are usually necessary to enter India at the Wagah border crossing.

"British nationals will wish to be aware that dependents of UK-based staff at British posts in Pakistan and a few non-essential personnel will be leaving Pakistan."

British nationals who do stay in Pakistan should make sure they are registered with British consular authorities, the FO said.

The advice came as it was announced that the European Union and G7 nations are proposing to pressure Switzerland and other countries to relax their codes of banking secrecy in order to allow the tracking of terrorist money.

EU governments are expected to agree a common line on the issue at a meeting in Belgium, UK Chancellor Gordon Brown revealed on Tuesday.

Many Britons are known to have been among the dead in the World Trade Center attack and many more are missing, feared dead.

On Sunday Prime Minister Tony Blair, who in recent days has been busy shoring up support among his European counterparts for the coalition against terror, told CNN: "The thousands of people who lost their lives included nationals of many, many countries.

"Probably two or three hundred people from Britain will have died in that terrorist attack. That makes it, in fact, the worst terrorist attack on British citizens that there has been since the Second World War."

On Tuesday, Brown called for international action to cut off supply of funds for terror groups and their members.

Chancellor Gordon Brown is calling for international action to cut terror groups' funds
Chancellor Gordon Brown is calling for international action to cut terror groups' funds  

Brown said: "We closed down a particular bank account in Britain yesterday but there are countries around the world that are not taking this kind of action and we must make sure the weakest links are dealt with as well.

"We want joint action to cut off the supply of funds to terrorists. They are being financed somewhere and get their money through bank accounts which we can stop."

The closed account, which Brown confirmed was in a Barclays Bank branch in Notting Hill, west London, "hadn't been used for some time," he said.

He gave no details on who controlled the account.

Brown indicated that Britain would be pressing Switzerland and other countries to join in international cooperation on tracking terrorists' money.

The issue is to be discussed in Brussels by European Union ministers this weekend, he said.

"This system of tracking terrorist money can only work if we deal with the weakest links," Brown told the BBC.

"That is why, when there is no international obligations on financial institutions to either examine whether they are getting money for terrorists and processing money for terrorists, and where there is no systemof regular reporting to international institutions about what is being done, we have to take action."

He added: "Switzerland must take the action that is required, and we are determined that other countries that traditionally have valued banking secrecy must also accept that where the balance between liberty and security is important, they must have institutions prepared to report uspicious transactions involving what may be terrorist activities."

• Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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