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US restricts movements of Syria’s UN envoy in New York

© Photo: AFP

Text by Sophie PILGRIM

Latest update : 2014-03-06

The United States is restricting the movements of Syria’s UN ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari (pictured), to a 25-mile (40 km) radius of New York City, the US State Department announced on Wednesday.

The United States gave no explanation for restricting the movements of Ja’afari, who has been an unwavering supporter of President Bashar al-Assad during the three-year civil war in Syria.

A Syrian-American opposition support group welcomed the move on Wednesday, accusing Ja’afari of peddling pro-Assad propaganda and attempting to cause sectarian divisions between Syrians “in a series of tours across the United States” over the past six months.

"We have delivered a diplomatic note to the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Mission to the United Nations in New York informing him that [...] he is restricted to a 25-mile travel radius," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

"UN delegates of certain countries are required to notify us or obtain permission prior to travel outside of a 25-mile radius," she said. "So this is not something that is out of the realm of what we've done before."

Iranian and North Korean diplomats are also restricted to a 25-mile radius of the Columbus Circle intersection in New York City.

Ja'afari, who has served as Syria’s envoy to the UN since 2006, has not commented on the note, which was issued at the end of February.

His 24-year-old daughter was criticised in 2012 for allegedly manipulating veteran US journalist Barbara Walters as a media aide to the Assad regime. Sheherazad Ja’afari set up an interview between Walters and Assad while allegedly advising the Syrian leader on how to take advantage of the journalist.

Walters then helped Sheherazad Ja’afari gain entry to Columbia University Journalism School, which she later said she regretted.

Bashar Ja’afari is a regular feature at UN meetings on the brutal civil war in Syria, which has seen more than 130,000 people killed.

Date created : 2014-03-06

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