World

Singapore in lowest risk level on US travel warning advisory

WASHINGTON: Singapore has been classified as a Level One country under the new US travel warning system. This means US citizens must "exercise usual precautions".

Level One is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk in a four-point safety ranking system for countries.

Under the latest system to warn its citizens about the dangers of foreign travel on Wednesday, 10 war zones and failed states are ranked Level Four, "do not travel": Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

North Korea is also Level Four, with the additional restriction that US law prohibits American travellers from using their passports there, effectively banning visits.

But some of the other countries' ratings may raise eyebrows - or international anger - even if the State Department says it is only presenting existing advice in a new format.

CONTROVERSIAL

Officials insisted the change was to make the advice clearer to US travellers, but the travel warning system has long been controversial and often offends foreign capitals.

"These are not political documents. These are simply based on our assessment of the security situation," senior consular official Michelle Bernier-Toth said.

Major European allies such as Britain, France and Germany are Level Two, "exercise increased caution".

On Tuesday, US senators heard State Department officials say someone known to the Cuban government has a mystery weapon that they use to cause brain trauma to Americans in Havana.

But Cuba is ranked only Level Three, "reconsider travel".

Some countries have complained in the past that the warnings exaggerate dangers and damage tourism, or suspect they have been subjected to a US diplomatic rebuke.

But each warning is accompanied by a country page on the travel.state.gov website, explaining what specific threats have been identified and why the advice has been given. - AFP

WORLD