Syria in tit-for-tat with Western diplomats

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Syria’s government declared on Tuesday that the ambassadors and staff of several Western countries as well as Turkey were personae non gratae.

“Some states recently informed heads of our diplomatic missions and embassy staff that they are unwelcome,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding Syria was now designating the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, France and Turkey, among others, as personae non gratae.

The ambassadors of Canada, Italy and Spain were also named in the statement, as well as various embassy staff members from Belgium, Bulgaria and Germany.

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The statement concluded by saying that Syria “still believes in the importance of dialogue based on principles of equality and mutual respect” and that diplomacy is a “necessary tool” for countries to resolve disputes.

“We hope that those countries which initiated this step will adopt the same principles, allowing for relations to be normalised,” it added.

A slew of mainly Western countries expelled Syrian diplomats in the wake of the Houla massacre of more than 100 people in late May, one of the worst atrocities in the country since an uprising broke out in March 2011.