Canada closes embassy in Iran, expels Iranian diplomats
07/09/2012 9:57:00 AM
Canada has closed its embassy in Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats in Canada, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced on Friday.
Baird said the Iranian regime's support of Syrian president Bashar Assad, Iran's refusal to comply with the UN's resolutions on its nuclear program and its regular threats to Israel make it a significant threat to global peace.
"It is among the world's worst violators of human rights; and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups," said Baird in a statement released Friday.
"Moreover, the Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel. Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran. Our diplomats serve Canada as civilians, and their safety is our number one priority."
Baird said diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended and all Canadian diplomatic staff have left Iran.
Iranian diplomats in Ottawa have been instructed to leave within five days.
On Friday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada issued an advisory against all travel to Iran.
"Because of heightened regional tensions, Canadians travellers in Iran will be closely watched by Iranian authorities," reads a statement on the department's website. "Iranian irritation at the recent Embassy closure may heighten this scrutiny of Canadians."
Canadians were warned that using cameras in public places in Iran, travelling beyond well-established tourist areas, and casual interactions with Iranians could lead to an investigation and harassment.
"Canadian travellers may be arbitrarily questioned, arrested and detained for a long period," the statement reads.
Those seeking services of the Canadian consulate in Iran are being directed to the embassy in Turkey.
Baird is currently in Russia with Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum set for this weekend.
The summit will bring together leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific countries to discuss trade issues, and Harper was expected to hold one-on-one meetings with the presidents of China and Russia.
During a meeting with Russia's foreign affairs minister on Friday, Baird asked the country to reconsider its support of the Assad regime.
With files from The Canadian Press