Syria has begun pre-emptively withdrawing ambassadors from Europe because it fears EU members will expel them in response to President Bashar Assad's ruthless crackdown on an uprising, Arab diplomats said.
They said Syrian envoys in a number of European Union countries had been told to come home by their government and were preparing to leave as soon as possible, although they did not specify the countries.
EU member states have been discussing proposals, promoted by France, to collectively downgrade diplomatic ties both in EU capitals and Damascus, but with no agreement so far.
In Brussels, an EU foreign policy spokesman said: "There is an ongoing discussion about the status of EU embassies in Syria and Syrian embassies in Brussels and in EU states, but there is no proposal at the moment to expel Syrian diplomats."
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