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Russia, Syria decry US closure of Syrian embassy

Syria and its Russian ally on Thursday criticised the decision by the US to suspend the operations of Syria’s embassy in Washington and consulates in other cities.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry in Damascus condemned the action and described it as a violation of international diplomatic conventions, while Moscow called it “worrying and disappointing”.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday that the actions were aimed at regime change to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom Russia had protected with diplomatic support at the UN Security Council and with arms deals.

“The aim of regime change in Damascus prevails over the task of disarming Syria of its chemical weapons and helping millions of Syrians who have suffered from the armed conflict,” it said.

The ministry said US committed a clear violation of the Vienna conventions on diplomatic relations and consular relations by resorting to an arbitrary measure.

It said it had also torpedoed the fundamental legal principle of consular work by involving honorary consulates in political matters.

State Department spokeswoman in Washington, Jen Psaki, on Thursday rejected Syria’s charge, saying US was abiding by not only the law but every aspect of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

She said Syria could appoint a third party state or a member of its US-based staff, who could either be a US citizen or US permanent resident, to care for the embassy premises and archives.

Psaki cautioned that the decision would still be subjected to the approval of the State Department.

The State Department has given Syrian diplomats until the end of March to leave the country, while administrative staff has until April 30 to pack up.

Syria announced on March 10 that it would stop providing consular services in the United States.

The State Department said on Tuesday the missions’ closure did not constitute a break in diplomatic ties with Syria despite failed peace initiatives to end the conflict in the Arab country.

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