|Iranian diplomats return home from Canada||
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird announced on September 7 that Canada had closed its embassy in Tehran and would expel all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada.
The Canadian foreign minister cited Iran’s nuclear program, its hostility toward Israel, and Iran’s alleged military assistance to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the reasons for the decision to close the embassy.
Baird also said, “Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today,” and accused Iran of showing blatant disregard for the safety of foreign diplomats.
Iranian envoy says embassy staff did nothing wrong in Canada
In an interview with CBC published on Tuesday, the Iranian chargé d’affaires to Canada, Kambiz Sheikh-Hassani, dismissed the allegations that the Iranian diplomats had violated codes of ethics.
On Monday, the Canadian minister of citizenship, immigration, and multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, told CBC that that a culture of harassment and intimidation by Iranian diplomats in Canada was among the reasons for the decision to close the embassy.
Commenting on the claims, Sheikh-Hassani, who had been in Canada for 21 months, said, “This is totally baseless. This office has been a place that many, many Iranians happily received quality consular services,” he said.
“I think our major guilt here was to provide a quality service to the Iranian community, making their relationship with the country excellent,” he added.
Sheikh-Hassani also stated, “I am very proud that I served my country to the best of my ability. I am going home with my head held high.”
When asked about suggestions by some foreign affairs analysts that Canada’s decision might have been provoked by concerns that Iran was installing sleeper cells in the West, Sheikh-Hassani scoffed.
“I am laughing because it is a laughable matter,” he said, adding, “There is nothing whatsoever to substantiate such allegations. If they had any such evidence, they would have used it against us as the reason to close this embassy.”
Sheikh-Hassani went on to say that he is confident that the Canadian government knows “Canada’s safety and security is not in danger by Iran,” but nevertheless severed diplomatic ties needlessly.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian diplomat blamed “outside governments and entities” for influencing a sudden decision by Ottawa to force the closure of the embassy and send the Iranians back home.
Sheikh-Hassani said that he had been given no prior warning of the directive and that he had not been provided with any evidence to justify what he called an “unwise, uncivilized, hostile” action.
He added, “(Canadian officials) have nothing substantial against this embassy. We have done everything within the framework of international law and respecting the Canadian law.”
“We have done nothing wrong, and I can (assure) you that… whatever allegations they have made against us have nothing to do with the activities of this embassy. It is international concerns.”
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