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Russia says U.S. decision to shut Syrian embassy is disappointing

Source: Reuters - Wed, 19 Mar 2014 12:16 GMT
Author: Reuters
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MOSCOW, March 19 (Reuters) - Russia said on Wednesday that the decision by the United States to suspend operations of Syria's embassy in Washington and consulates in other cities was "worrying and disappointing".

Worsening relations between the United States and Russia over Ukraine have clouded efforts by the two countries to broker a peace deal in Syria, which is in its fourth year of civil war.

The Russian Foreign Ministry suggested Washington's actions were aimed at "regime change" to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom Russia has protected at the U.N. Security Council and with arms deals.

"The aim of regime change in Damascus prevails over the task of disarming Syria of its chemical weapons and helping millions of Syrians who have suffered from the armed conflict," the ministry said on its website.

Syria announced on March 10 it would stop providing consular services in the United States. State Department officials said while embassy and consular activities were affected the United States was not severing diplomatic relations with Syria. (Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Steve Guttreman)

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