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The United States on Friday issued a global travel warning to American citizens traveling around the world. Earlier in the week, diplomats in Washington defended issuing “talking points” to the embassies by the White House.

The State Department advisory statement emphasized the threat posed by al Qaeda saying, “As we mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Department of State informs U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad of the continued threat posed by al-Qa’ida and its affiliates.”

On the other hand, the earlier “talking points” issued from the White House had urged U.S. officials to “minimize references to al Qaeda.” Citing the killing of Osama bin Laden as evidence, the communique emphasized that the terror network that plotted and executed the Sept. 11 attacks is becoming “increasingly irrelevant.”

The latest travel advisory warned U.S. citizens, to be “aware that al Qaeda affiliates and allies have demonstrated the intent and capability to carry out attacks against the United States and our interests around the world.”

“In the past, terrorist organizations have on occasion planned their attacks to coincide with significant dates on the calendar,” it said, adding, “This Worldwide Travel Alert supplements the July 26, 2011, Worldwide Caution, and expires on January 2, 2012.”

Answering questions from journalists earlier in the week, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland defended the White House’s issuance of “talking points” for government officials domestically as well as those posted in foreign lands.

Nuland told journalists, “This is not unusual,” reminding that the Bush administration had issued press guidance for federal officials on the occasions of the second and fifth anniversaries of Sept. 11.

The advisory was issued, Nuland said, “primarily to ensure that embassies are marking the event, that they are having joint events in their host country to stand together against terrorism, and ensure that the day is marked appropriately internationally.”

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