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U.S. halts Syrian embassy in Washington, orders diplomats out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 01:35

March 18 - U.S. Secretary of State Kerry said, ''We just felt that the idea that this embassy is sitting here with representation, that we could take seriously, is an insult.'' Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

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The United States Tuesday suspended operations of the Syrian Embassy in Washington D.C. and two other consulates telling diplomats and staff who are not U.S. citizens to leave the country. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the time has come. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING: "140,000 people killed, more than 10,000 children. Millions of refugees, millions of displaced people. People attacked by their own government with gas. People tortured and killed by the thousands." The U.S. says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for atrocities against Syrians. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING: "We just felt that the idea that this embassy is sitting here with representation, that we could take seriously, is an insult. And we closed it. It's that simple. The timing poses problems for one man hoping to head to Syria. r (SOUNDBITE) (English) CANADIAN CITIZEN SHESH WALLACE SAYING: "I am a Canadian, and my son is a U.S. citizen, and we were both going to visit Syria. I've traveled to 194 countries and I have four left, and Syria is one of them. For obvious reasons I waited for the last moment to get this, and a two o'clock is when they close." Efforts by the US and Russia to broker a peace settlement in Syria are now further strained with heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington over Ukraine.

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U.S. halts Syrian embassy in Washington, orders diplomats out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 01:35