Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Canada still paying embassy rent in Syria, but not in Iran

With Canada considering re-establishing ties with Iran, the foreign affairs department has confirmed that it does not own or lease any property in Iran—despite a government website showing holdings in Tehran as recently as last week. Canada’s lease agreements for properties in Damascus, Syria, however, are still in effect and landlords are maintaining the buildings, according to Global Affairs Canada. A document obtained by Embassy through an Access to Information request showed that chancery offices in Damascus had cost Canada almost $4 million in rent, cumulatively, over a six-year period up to March 31, 2015. Rent is still being paid, though Canadian diplomats were recalled in March 2012. On March 8, 2013, Canada informed the landlord of its chancery in Iran that it was terminating the lease. That’s about six months after Canadian diplomats were recalled from Tehran in September 2012. Canada is holding on to its leases in Syria, where violent conflict could keep Canadian diplomats away for years to come, even as other properties around the world are being let go as part of cost-cutting measures. Meanwhile, plans announced in the Conservative government’s 2012 federal budget appear to have continued, with Canada recently selling off a swanky property in Sydney, Australia for more than $10 million. Before the holidays, others in Athens, Rome, Brussels and Lisbon were on the market too. Dozens of Canadian-owned properties have been sold off over the past couple of years as a result of this budgeting measure.



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