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US Closes Embassy in Central African Republic; Evacuates Staff

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The United States has temporarily shut down its embassy in the Central African Republic and evacuated the staff, because of a rebel threat to topple the government.

A State Department spokesman Thursday said Washington is urging all parties to begin peace talks to offer a new vision of security for the country. He said U.S. diplomatic relations with the C.A.R. are not affected.

The United Nations already has evacuated non-essential staff from the country because of the threat of violence.

Rebel fighters are about 300 kilometers from the capital, Bangui. They have said they have no plans to seize the city, but say they will not wait around if government forces make any moves against them.

The rebel coalition called Seleka has captured 10 towns since launching its offensive two weeks ago. It has threatened to overthrow President Francois Bozize, accusing him of failing to implement a 2007 peace accord that ended an earlier rebellion.

The C.A.R. won independence from France in 1960. About 250 French troops are in the country as part of a peacekeeping mission. Some in the C.A.R. want France to do more to counter the rebel threat.

French President Francois Hollande says France is in the C.A.R. to protect its interests and nationals, not to intervene in the country's business.

Article by VOA News