London, May 29, 2012
London, May 29, 2012
The United States, the Netherlands and Bulgaria became the latest countries on Tuesday to expel the Syrian envoy, joining Spain, Italy, Canada, Britain, Australia, France and Germany.
The U.S. State Department is expelling Syria’s charge d’affaires in Washington following a wave of deadly attacks on civilians in Syria over the weekend, a U.S. official said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Syrian diplomat would be given 72 hours to depart the country.
Syria’s longtime ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, was recalled to Damascus late last year and a formal replacement had not been named. The Netherlands has declared Syria’s ambassador to the country as “persona non-grata” to protest the massacre of Houla, the Dutch foreign affairs minister said.
“I have decided to declare the Syrian ambassador as a persona non-grata,” Uri Rosenthal said in a statement, adding that “we cannot co-operate with a country headed by such a president,” referring to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
The Bulgarian foreign ministry said in a statement, “Salah Soukkar, Syria’s charge d’affaires in Bulgaria will be informed today that he has to leave Bulgaria in the next 72 hours. ” Earlier, Spain had expelled its Syria’s ambassador in Madrid in protest against the “unacceptable repression by the Syrian regime against its own people,” the government said.
“Spain has decided to declare the Syrian ambassador in Spain, Hussam Edin Aala, persona non grata because of the unacceptable repression carried out by the Syrian regime against its own people,” the foreign ministry said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the expulsions would send a “stark message” that time was running out for Assad after the killings of 108 people in the central Syrian town last week.
The move was part of the increased pressure by the international community on senior figures in the regime, to “get the message across to them that they have to choose, that time will run out for Assad,” Hague said.
“As part of that pressure today we have again called the Syrian charge d’affaires in London here to the Foreign Office. He has been given seven days to leave the country,” Hague said.
“Other Syrian diplomats will be expelled, two other diplomats will be expelled at the same time. “Our allies and partners around the world will be taking similar action and announcing it today — including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United States, Canada and Australia.”
Rome declared the Syrian ambassador and other embassy staff “persona non grata,” the foreign ministry said, while Canada announced it will immediately expel the three remaining Syrian diplomats in Ottawa in response to a massacre in the town of Houla last week, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Tuesday.
“Ambassador Khaddour Hasan was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and told he was ‘persona non grata,’” the Italian government said, expressing its “indignation for the heinous crimes carried out against the civilian population.”
Syria’s main opposition coalition welcomed the expulsion of the country’s top diplomats from the several Western countries, according to a statement on Tuesday. “The Syrian National Council welcomes the expulsion of the regime’s ambassador in Paris and its representatives in Australia,” the statement said.
“The SNC declares its full support for these actions that France and Australia initiated, and expects other states to follow suit.” Several EU nations were considering a joint expulsion of Syrian diplomatic staff from their countries Tuesday in response to the weekend’s horrific massacre in the town of Houla, diplomatic sources said.
“That idea is on the table,” said an EU diplomat ahead of talks Tuesday and Wednesday between ambassadors from the 27-nation bloc, and as France announced the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador.
“There was a concerted plan between Britain, France and Germany,” said another source, who asked not to be identified. EU ambassadors will discuss further how to respond to the weekend events at talks taking place in Brussels.
Source: Al Arabiya with agencies