Terror alert kept as long as needed: US official

The deputy US secretary of state said the terror alert in Europe will stay in effect as long as it is needed.

Wroclaw: The deputy US secretary
of state on Thursday said the terror alert in Europe will stay
in effect as long as it is needed.

James Steinberg also said that the terror warnings
issued recently by European governments and the US are the
result of an extraordinarily high level of intelligence
sharing between them. That sharing, he said, is the result of
dramatic improvements over the past decade.

He said the alert is "a recognition that we think
there are reasons to be concerned and that people should be

"As long as those conditions prevail, that alert will
stay in effect. It won`t change," he said on the sidelines of
a conference on trans-Atlantic issues in the Polish city of
Wroclaw. "But it is not a recommendation for anybody to change
what they do or where they go. It`s simply just to be aware."

He said the alert has value because it encourages
citizens to be aware of danger, something that helped foil the
Times Square plot in New York and other planned attacks.

"We`ve seen over recent years that that kind of alert
- just having that in your mind - has made a huge difference,
whether it`s the Times Square events or others," Steinberg
told a small group of reporters after delivering a speech at
the Wroclaw Global Forum, a new initiative.

The US State Department last weekend advised American
citizens living or travelling in Europe to take more
precautions about their personal security.

Britain`s Foreign Office in turn warned travellers to
France and Germany of a high terror threat, while France
yesterday warned its citizens that there is a high terrorism
risk in Britain and asked them to be watchful in public
transport and busy tourist areas.

France, Britain and Germany are believed to be the
possible targets of the feared terrorist attack. The German
government, however, has played down the fears and said
earlier this week that there is no reason to be "alarmist".

The US believes a cell of Germans and Britons are at
the heart of a terror plot against European cities, a plan
they link to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Pakistani officials said this week that eight German
militants were killed in a US missile strike in Pakistan.