December 6, 2007 / 3:05 AM / in 10 years

Iran criticizes Canada's actions in envoy row

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday that Canada had not acted in line with “the usual manner of exchanging ambassadors,” Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported after Ottawa said its envoy to Tehran had been expelled.

<p>Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, November 15, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said the Canadian ambassador, who had been in Iran since April but had not handed over his credentials, was expelled because Ottawa refused to accept Iran’s proposed envoy to Canada.

Relations between Iran and Canada have been icy since 2003, when Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi died of a brain hemorrhage after receiving a blow to the head at Tehran’s Evin prison. Last week, Iran’s supreme court ordered a new trial over Kazemi’s death in custody.

“Iran has not yet received the credentials of the Canadian ambassador and what Canada’s Foreign Ministry has done so far has not been in line with the usual manner of exchanging ambassadors with a mutual and common will,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini was quoted as saying.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is surprised the Canadian side ... has created a gap between statements and actions and has chosen a one-sided approach,” Hosseini said in comments carried by the official IRNA news agency.

Hosseini’s statement made no mention of any expulsion and gave no further details.

A Canadian diplomat said the Iranian authorities had not invited John M. Mundy to hand over his credentials although he had traveled to Iran in April after receiving an ‘agreement’, or consent, from Tehran to become envoy in February.

The Canadian embassy has officially been headed by a charge d‘affaires awaiting the envoy’s formal handover of credentials.

Bernier said Ottawa had not been able to accept the candidates of an envoy Tehran had submitted. He did not give details but said the expulsion of Canada’s ambassador was “unfortunate and unjustified.”

Last month, a United Nations panel approved a Canadian-sponsored motion rebuking Iran for human rights abuses.

Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Sami Aboudi

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