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Syria expels Jordan envoy in tit-for-tat move: ministry

Bahjat Suleiman, the Syrian ambassador to Jordan speaks to reporters in Amman, Wednesday, May 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

DAMASCUS: Syria is to expel Jordan's charge d'affaires, in a tit-for-tat move hours after Amman gave the Syrian ambassador 24 hours to leave the kingdom, state-run television said Monday.

"The Syrian foreign ministry will order the expulsion of the Jordanian charge d'affaires to Damascus, after the Jordanian foreign ministry declared the Syrian ambassador to Amman persona non grata," said Al-Ikhbariya television.

It quoted a foreign ministry statement as saying that the Jordanian charge d'affaires is considered by Damascus persona non grata.

"In response to the Jordanian government's baseless decision to declare the Syrian ambassador to Amman persona non grata, the Syrian government has decided to declare the Jordanian charge d'affaires in Damascus persona non grata," said the ministry.

Earlier, Jordan's foreign ministry spokeswoman Sabah Rafi said Syrian ambassador Bahjat Suleiman's expulsion came after "repeated insults to Jordan and its leadership, institutions and citizens, through his meetings, writings and social media websites."

Rafi said the government in Jordan, which is hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Syrian conflict, had "repeatedly warned Suleiman not to exploit Jordanian hospitality."

"Suleiman used Jordan as a platform to question its positions and make false accusations and allegations against the kingdom," she said.

"He also used Jordan to directly insult brotherly and neighbouring Arab countries and insult their leaderships."

Last year, Suleiman attacked Jordan for hosting a meeting of Syria's opposition backers, the so-called Friends of Syria.

He has also in the past described the around 600,000 refugees in Jordan as "terrorists".

 

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