Syria says Turkish, Western diplomats no longer welcome

Syria says Turkish, Western diplomats no longer welcome

Syria's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jihad Makdissi speaks at a news conference in Damascus on May 27, 2012. (Photo: AP)

June 05, 2012, Tuesday/ 14:14:00

Syria's Foreign Ministry says Damascus is expelling Western diplomats in response to a mass expulsion of Syrian envoys by Western capitals last week.

Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi said Tuesday the list of diplomats includes the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, Turkey, France and others. Some have already left the country because of the violent uprising.

But the foreign ministry said the government was still open to re-establishing ties with the diplomats, almost all of whom had already been recalled by their governments.

"The Syrian Arab Republic still believes in the importance of dialogue based on principles of equality and mutual respect," a ministry statement it said. "We hope the countries that initiated these steps will adopt those principles, which would allow relations to return to normal again."

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad told the Syrian news channel al-Ikhbariya that the government's decision aimed to encourage those countries to "correct" their position.

Syria has been mired in bloody conflict for over a year as security forces seek to crush a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

The United States, France, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Bulgaria and Switzerland coordinated a move to expel Syrian diplomats in response to a massacre of 108 people in the city of Houla. Nearly half those killed were children.

Turkey also expelled Syria's charge d'affaires and other diplomats last week, joining an international campaign to isolate President Bashar al-Assad's regime after the Houla massacre.

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