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U.S. Air Force lifts London ban

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U.S. Air Force staff based at RAF Lakenheath had been ordered to stay away from London.

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LONDON, England -- An order banning U.S. Air Force personnel at two British bases from traveling to London has been lifted.

The Air Force said in a statement on Tuesday it now considered that the situation in London had "stabilized."

The Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, Gen. James L. Jones, confirmed that the ban had been rescinded.

"Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed or injured in last week's attacks," said Jones.

"While all personnel are encouraged to be vigilant, we cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by the acts of terrorists. All U.S. personnel are encouraged to continue with their normal routine."

An Air Force spokesman had said earlier that 10,000 military staff at the Mildenhall and Lakenheath bases in Suffolk in eastern England had been told to avoid London because of fears for their safety.

With London being urged to continue as normal despite the city being placed on its highest ever terror alert, CNN's Robyn Curnow said the ban had stirred up controversy in the UK media.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair has encouraged Londoners to go about their lives as normal, while mayor Ken Livingstone was among commuters using busy underground trains on Monday.

"We trust the four million Americans who come to London each year are made of sterner stuff than the U.S. Air Force," the Daily Mail newspaper said.

But British defense secretary John Reid said that the U.S. military's initial order to prevent staff from going to London had been correct.

"This was a sensible decision when it was taken in the aftermath of the terrorist atrocities in London last week but we now want business as usual and the ban has been rescinded," said Reid.

"The U.S. stands by our commitment and determination not to let terrorism defeat us."

David Johnson, the charge d'affaires at the American Embassy in London, said that the decision to lift the ban could have been taken sooner.

"I don't think any of us expected the kind of media frenzy that took place this morning," he told BBC radio.

"They would have been looking at this during the course of the day anyway. But the spotlight, this focus I think probably made them look at it a little more rapidly.

"It is appropriate for someone on the ground to try to weigh issues. It is also appropriate for them to go back and look at them on a recurring basis to see if those decisions are correct. That is what the Air Force has done today."

Johnson stressed that American citizens were not being advised to avoid London.

"The advice we are providing to Americans is that you should go about your business in London and you should be aware of your surroundings," he said.

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