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Friday, April 24, 2009

Canada to close embassies in Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Diplomatic relations with countries maintained

The Canadian government said Thursday it will be closing its embassies in Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, citing changing international priorities.

Both decisions come after a "serious examination of Canada's current diplomatic representation abroad," said a news release posted on the websites of both embassies.

"The Government of Canada continually monitors its representation abroad and periodically shifts resources to meet Canada's needs in an ever-changing world," said the statements.

Neither of the releases provided further details as to why the offices are being closed.

The office in Cambodia will be closed in May, the embassy statement said. Canada will continue to provide development aid to Cambodia, which is still battling serious crime, drugs and human rights violations.

A UN-backed war crimes commission is grilling members of the Khmer Rouge regime for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people.

Sambo Chhom, executive director of the Canadian Cambodian Association of Ontario, said closing the embassy will have an adverse affect on the lives of Cambodians.

"The Cambodian government feels it's being watched by the Canadian government," Chhom said. "They wouldn't do anything harsh while they're there because they fear an international outcry."

Canada says it will keep a humanitarian aid office operated by Canadian International Development Agency open in Pnomh Penh, Cambodia's capital.

The Australian embassy will now provide consular services for Canadians in Cambodia, the government says. Those seeking passport services, however, will be directed to the embassy in Thailand.

Sarajevo Embassy to close in August
The embassy in Bosnia-Herzegovina, located in the capital city of Sarajevo, will be closed in August.

Canadians seeking emergency assistance in the country will be directed to the embassy in Budapest, an embassy release said.

A consular official, "whom we intend to hire as soon as possible following the embassy’s closure," will help Canadians living in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the statement said.

Canada will continue maintain diplomatic relations in Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. For both countries, a Canadian ambassador in a nearby country will take over diplomatic duties, the statements said. It is not immediately clear which ambassadors will be recruited.

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