Iran slated to recall ambassador over Burgas probe

Bulgarian media reports Iran's ambassador to leave Sofia after interior ministry implicates Hezbollah operatives terror attack.

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
February 10, 2013 02:22
1 minute read.
Iranian ambassador to Bulgaria Gholamreza Bageri speaks to reporters  in Sofia February 8, 2013

Iranian ambassador to Bulgaria. (photo credit: REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov )

 
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BERLIN - The Bulgarian interior minister’s investigative result implicating Hezbollah operatives in the July bombing of an Israeli tour bus prompted the Islamic Republic on Saturday to recall its ambassador to Sofia, according to Bulgarian media.

The Bulgarian media reported Iran’s ambassador Gholamreza Bageri will leave Bulgaria’s capital - Sofia - and the Iranian government will downgrade its diplomatic relations with Bulgaria.

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The diplomatic fissure was first reported by the online edition of 24 Chasa daily, according to the English language Bulgarian wire service Sofia News Agency.

Bageri stated at a Friday press conference that the Burgas attack has "nothing to do with Iran."

Bulgaria's interior minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, accused two members of the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah of carrying out a bomb attack in the seaside resort of Burgas, which resulted in the killing of five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian Muslim bus driver. The explosion caused injuries to over 30 Israeli tourists.

The Bulgarian press reported that Bageri commented that Bulgarian-Iranians relations have been friendly prior to the Burgas attack. US and Israeli intelligence officials said in July that the terror act was a joint Hezbollah-Iran operation.

Lebanon’s prime minister Najib Mikati said he would he assist the Bulgarians in their investigation. Two of the suspects lived in Lebanon and it is unclear if arrest warrants were issued and if the two operatives are still in Lebanon. The Jerusalem Post learned that Bulgaria has attempted multiple times over the years to compel the Lebanese authorities to extradite criminal suspects but Lebanese authorities have refused.

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