U.S. Ambassador John Heffern defended on Friday a security alert that was issued for American citizens in Armenia following violent protests in Libya and Egypt against a privately made film that ridicules Islam.
In a statement circulated on Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan warned Americans residing in the country to “maintain a high level of vigilance and good situational awareness in light of recent attacks on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya.”
“The U.S. Embassy in Armenia has no specific information to indicate that these events will affect security in Armenia,” said the statement. “The U.S. Embassy in Armenia is observing normal working hours.”
Heffern denied reports that Armenia is one of only seven countries where U.S. missions issued such warnings. “The reports that only seven embassies did this are just incorrect,” he told reporters. “At least 50 embassies all over the world have done this.”
“Every [U.S.] ambassador, every embassy in the world has the responsibility to do whatever we can to protect any American citizens in our country,” he said. “So whenever there is an event in a country or outside of that country which we think could raise the security level for everywhere in the world, not country specific … we notify our citizens and remind them to be vigilant.”
“We have a great relationship with Armenia,” added Heffern. “We are friends and partners of Armenia. We appreciate the work that the government and the police and the protective services do to help us protect ourselves.”
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other diplomats were killed on Tuesday in an Islamist attack on the U.S. Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi
President Serzh Sarkisian condemned and expressed “deep shock” at the attack in a letter of condolences sent to U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday. “This hideous crime was a blow to not only the American people and the American government but the entire progressive humanity,” wrote Sarkisian.
U.S. missions in the Islamic world were bracing Friday for a possible fourth day of protests against the film.