March 1, 2012 / 10:18 AM / 5 years ago

UK withdraws diplomats from Syria, not breaking ties

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Thursday it has pulled its diplomats out of Syria for security reasons but is not breaking diplomatic ties with Damascus after months of violent political turmoil.

"We now judge that the deterioration of the security situation in Damascus puts our embassy staff and premises at risk, and have taken the decision to withdraw staff accordingly. Our ambassador and diplomatic staff left Syria on 29 February and will return to the UK shortly," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Britain had not broken diplomatic ties with Syria. "The (Syrian) embassy in London will remain open so we can have a channel of communication to the Syrian regime," he said.

Reporting by Adrian Croft

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