Canada severs diplomatic ties with Iran
TORONTO -- Canada shut its embassy in Tehran on Friday, severed diplomatic relations and ordered Iranian diplomats out of the country, accusing the Islamic Republic of being the most significant threat to world peace.
The surprise action reinforces the Conservative government's close ties with Tehran's arch foe Israel but also removes some of Washington's eyes and ears inside the Iranian capital.
It comes as Iran's talks with world powers over its nuclear program have stalled and Israel is weighing the option of a military strike to prevent it from developing atomic weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful objectives only.
The move also underscores the widening gaps between Western countries' attempts to isolate and punish Iran and Tehran's efforts to forge closer ties with energy-hungry Asian trading partners such as India and Pakistan. Iran's recent push to bolster its links with Asia makes the break with Canada a less serious blow than it would have been years ago.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the Canadian embassy in Tehran will close immediately and Iranian diplomats in Canada have been given five days to leave.
A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry said that Iran would soon respond, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported.
Baird said Canada was officially designating Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and gave a long list of reasons, including Tehran's support for Syria's embattled president Bashar Assad. Baird said he also was worried about the safety of diplomats in Tehran after attacks on the British embassy there. -- AP