Syria lists 17 Western envoys as unwelcome

By REUTERS
June 5, 2012 14:30

BEIRUT - Syria branded 17 diplomats, most of them American and European, as "persona non grata" (unwelcome) in response to a mass expulsion of Syrian envoys by Western capitals last week.

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."

Syria has been mired in bloody conflict for over a year as security forces seek to crush a revolt against President Bashar 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.

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