US Shutdown Threatens Embassy Operations

The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh will remain open for “a limited amount of time” and its social media accounts will be updated less regularly as it wrestles with limited funds because of the current U.S. fiscal deadlock.

On October 1, the U.S. government shutdown non-essential services after politicians on Capitol Hill failed to agree on a budget for the 2013-2014 financial year. The lack of funds has meant thousands of civil servants are currently not being paid or going to work.

“The U.S. Embassy will continue to function for a limited period of time. The U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development are national security agencies and have taken steps to continue working to advance the national interest,” embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh said on Monday.

“Regardless of the challenges created by the shutdown, we will continue to operate to advance national interests and protect the health and safety of U.S. citizens abroad,” he added.

Mr. McIntosh declined to say how soon the shutdown would hit Phnom Penh, though he said that the uncertainty caused by the shutdown “depletes our flexibility to respond to national security imperatives.”

“Operations of U.S. Department of State offices with multi-year or permanent funding will continue for a limited time, using residual funding in these accounts, until the funds are insufficient to continue,” he explained. “Offices and programs will cease operations when funds become insufficient.”

While Mr. McIntosh stressed the embassy currently remained open, its Twitter and Facebook accounts were suspended Monday and yesterday.

The embassy will continue providing visas and other consular services.

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