Syria says US closure of embassy arbitrary, illegal
MOSCOW - Reuters
The closed Syrian embassy is pictured in Washington on March 18, 2014. AFP PhotoSyria's foreign ministry said Wednesday that a US decision to close its Washington embassy and two consulates was illegal and arbitrary.
A statement described the decision as "an arbitrary measure," saying it was "a clear violation of the Vienna Convention" that governs diplomatic relations between nations.
It came a day after the United States announced it was closing Syria's Washington embassy and consulates in Michigan and Texas and expelling remaining diplomatic staff who were not US citizens.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the decision was taken because "the illegitimacy of the Assad regime is so overwhelming".
"So we just felt the idea that this embassy is sitting here with representation that we could take seriously is an insult, and we closed it. It's that simple," he said.
Syria's foreign ministry said the decision was intended to undermine the country's ability to provide its citizens abroad with services.
The decision "reveals the real objectives of US policy against the interests of Syrian citizens and is another step in the US support for terrorism and bloodshed in Syria," the statement added.
The Syrian embassy in the US capital had been operating for some time without an ambassador, who left the US in December 2011, leaving only a few low level staff who had been providing limited consular services.
The measures will not affect Syria's mission to the United Nations, though Washington last month announced it would limit the movements of Syria's UN ambassador to a 25-mile radius around New York City.
Russia says U.S. decision to shut Syrian embassy is disappointing
Russia said on Wednesday that the decision by the United States to suspend operations of Syria's embassy in Washington and consulates in other cities was "worrying and disappointing".
The Russian Foreign Ministry suggested Washington's actions were aimed at "regime change" to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom Russia has protected at the U.N. 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," the ministry said on its website.