Turkey shuts embassy in Syria

Damascus, March 26, 2012

Turkey has shut the embassy in Syria
Turkey has shut the embassy in Syria
Turkey on Monday became the latest country to close its embassy in Damascus, delivering a "strong political message" to the regime after a year of bloodshed in Syria.

A Turkish diplomatic source said the mission was closed because of deteriorating security conditions in Syria and that all diplomatic personnel had left Damascus.

"Activities at the Turkish embassy have been suspended from this morning," the source said on condition of anonymity, adding however that the consulate in the northern city of Aleppo will remain open.

"The closure of our embassy is obviously a strong political message (to the Damascus regime)," a source close to the Turkish government said.

Turkey has called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down and imposed a number of sanctions on Damascus.

It is due to host a "Friends of Syria" conference in Istanbul on April 1 to pressure the Damascus regime following a first such meeting in Tunis last month attended by leading officials from Western and Arab countries.

Syrian opposition factions including the main Syrian National Council are meeting in Istanbul on Monday to prepare for the conference.

Turkey joins a number of other countries which have already closed their embassies in Damascus, including the United States, some EU members and the six Arab monarchies of the Gulf.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said last week that the survival of the Assad regime was "almost impossible".

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday expressed hope that the mission of UN envoy to Syria Kofi Annan will be successful.

Meeting the international envoy in Moscow, the Russian President promised Annan support on all levels, voicing hope that his mission will come out with positive results.

Medvedev's meeting with the UN envoy took place at Moscow's Vnukovo 2 Airport before the Russian President travels to Seoul and New Delhi where he is participating in the Nuclear Security Summit in the South Korean capital and the BRICS summit in the Indian capital.

Earlier Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov met the UN envoy and discussed with him the situation in Syria.

26 марта 2012 г.

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