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Daily Dutch News in English

Dutch embassy in Damascus to close

Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal is closing the Dutch embassy in Damascus due to the deteriorating security situation and to send a clear political signal to Syria. ‘The closure underlines our horror at the appalling violence of the Syrian regime,’ Mr Rosenthal said. ‘We will maintain contact with the opposition and support them in other ways.’

Mr Rosenthal announced the closure on Wednesday afternoon, following his meeting with members of the Syrian opposition at the ministry. They discussed the alarming situation in Syria and Mr Rosenthal expressed his admiration for their perseverance under extremely trying conditions. He emphasised the importance of opposition groups joining forces, because ‘the more united they are, the more effective they can be.’

The Netherlands is continuing to support the opposition in financial and practical terms, for example by supplying technical assistance to enable internet access. In addition the Netherlands has already donated €1 million to the World Food Programme.

Since the crisis in Syria began, Mr Rosenthal has advocated toughening sanctions against the country. He recently proposed that civil servants, military personnel and members of the business community be encouraged to join the opposition.