Syria summons U.S. and French envoys over Hama visit

BEIRUT Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:15pm EDT

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria said it had summoned the envoys of the United States and France in Damascus on Sunday to express objection over their visit to the restive city of Hama last week without clearance from the authorities.

Syria's news agency SANA quoted the Foreign Ministry saying that the visit of the U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and France's Ambassador Eric Chevallier to Hama was a "clear evidence of the American and French intervention in Syria's internal affairs and confirms that there is an external support for (protests)."

The U.S. State Department said Ford toured Hama to show solidarity with residents facing a security crackdown after weeks of escalating demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad but rejected Syria's accusations that he sought to incite protests.

"The Foreign Ministry ... (expressed) strong objection over their visit to the city of Hama without the approval from the ministry," SANA said.

On Friday, tens of thousands of people rallied in Hama and called for the downfall of Assad.

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