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Medical tests for embassy mail men

Two men who work for the US Embassy in Paris have undergone medical tests after handling a suspicious letter, but the embassy said preliminary analysis suggested it was not harmful.

"There is no indication that the envelope contained something dangerous or poisoned," Embassy spokesman Paul Patin said. "There is no indication that anyone is in danger or hurt."

A Paris police official said the employees were "unwell" after the incident. The official did not elaborate on the workers' condition.

Mailroom employees identified a suspicious letter and the embassy alerted the French authorities, Patin said.

The letter was being examined by chemical experts, and the two people who handled the letter were examined by medical authorities at the Paris hospital Hotel-Dieu, Patin said.

The embassy could not immediately provide further information about where the letter came from or what was suspicious about it, or the nationalities of the employees.

The mailroom is in the main building of the embassy, located just off the Champs-Elysees and not far from the French presidential palace.

The embassy, which is always surrounded by layers of security, remained open after the incident, and employees were entering and exiting the building as usual.

Suspicious mail has gotten particular attention since 2001, when five people in the US were killed and 17 fell ill after opening letters containing anthrax. Postal facilities nationwide were shut for inspection after the letters containing anthrax spores were sent to lawmakers and news organisations in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The FBI concluded that an army scientist, Bruce Ivins, was responsible for the attacks. Ivins, who killed himself in 2008, denied involvement, and his family and some friends have continued to insist he was innocent.

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