WASHINGTON — The State Department on Monday announced temporary relief from a months-long travel-restriction directive that was enforced this summer against diplomats stationed in 17 countries.
Administration officials said the relaxation of the mandatory Foreign Service Department policy, which was issued in July and bolstered in August, could be extended. “We will continue to monitor travel-security conditions in these countries and will announce changes to further ease restrictions in the future,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.
The temporary relief doesn’t apply to most of the current stops, including Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Sudan, and Afghanistan. Travel by diplomats to those countries could resume if the situation improves.
For six months beginning June 1, officials began barring travel in 18 countries with long histories of terrorism and religious extremism, followed by another six months of even tighter restrictions against 19 nations.
“Cleveland-based Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Forces, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the State Department-CIA-FBI Joint Terrorism Communications Center have established clear-cut indicators indicating increased risks of travel to these countries,” acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in August. “The department determined that it is in the best interest of our mission to remove these security measures and replace them with periodic restrictions that provide foreign service officers with more freedom to travel, making it easier for them to fulfill their public service duties.”
Toner said at the time that the rules did not include travel to Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, or Egypt.