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U.S. OKs return of diplomatic families to Saudi Arabia

By the CNN Wire Staff
A State Department directive cited improved security in Riyadh, above, and other areas in Saudi Arabia.
A State Department directive cited improved security in Riyadh, above, and other areas in Saudi Arabia.
  • The last major terror strike in Saudi Arabia occurred in 2007
  • An "ongoing security threat" persists, U.S. State Department says
  • Americans told to keep a "low profile"

(CNN) -- Citing a continued improvement in the security climate in Saudi Arabia, the United States has authorized the return of all family members to U.S. diplomatic outposts in the oil-rich monarchy.

At the same time, the U.S. State Department is recommending that Americans there continue to adopt security precautions in the Middle Eastern kingdom and "keep a low profile."

The directive, dated Thursday, is an update to a travel warning issued in February. The diplomatic posts in question include the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and the U.S. consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran. The Eastern Province and Riyadh were singled out as areas where security has improved.

"The last major terrorist attack directed against foreign nationals was in 2007. Significant measures since then by the Saudi government have greatly improved the security environment throughout the kingdom," the State Department travel warning said.

The State Department emphasized that "an ongoing security threat" persists and citizens should consider risks of visiting the kingdom, where militants maintain a presence. American visitors should be careful to select living arrangements that have "stringent security measures."

"There is an ongoing security threat due to the continued presence of terrorist groups, some affiliated with al Qaeda, who may target Western interests, housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas, and other facilities where Westerners congregate. These terrorist groups may employ a wide variety of tactics and also may target Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the kingdom," the department said.

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