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Americans 'strongly urged' to leave Pakistan, India

Americans 'strongly urged' to leave Pakistan, India

From Elise Labott

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As expected, the U.S. State Department issued a new travel warning Tuesday for India and Pakistan, "strongly urging" U.S. citizens to leave both countries.

The new warning updates existing advisories issued over the past few weeks, which carry a milder tone, "urging" citizens to leave.

"Tensions between India and Pakistan remain at serious levels and the risk of intensified military hostilities cannot be ruled out," the warning said.

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A State Department official said the stronger warning to Americans to leave India and Pakistan was prompted in part because few Americans have left under the current warnings, as relations deteriorate between the two nuclear powers.

The warning was issued in coordination with the British embassies in the region, who are expected to issue similar advisories soon.

"People don't seem to be taking this seriously," the official said, noting that the United States is concerned about American citizens potentially getting caught in any crossfire of fighting between India and Pakistan. "We want them to take the warning more seriously."

"It lends stronger backing to the idea," the official said. "We are both trying to do the same thing and hopefully will make people think harder about leaving."

About 60,000 Americans are in India and about 8,000 are in Pakistan, according to the State Department.

Friday, the State Department authorized the departure of non-essential U.S. personnel from India, as well as their families.

The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan ordered the departure of all non-essential personnel and their dependents in March, following the bombing of a church in Islamabad that killed two Americans.

For the past week or so, officials with the U.S. Central Command have been working with the U.S. embassies in India and Pakistan to evaluate evacuation plans that would involve the removal of U.S. citizens by commercial aircraft and chartered aircraft and boats, should substantial armed conflict break out between the two nations.




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