Question: Now that Syrian Embassy personnel have been instructed to leave the United States, what happens to their buildings/facilities? Who is responsible for securing them? When did the Syrian Ambassador depart and can you provide information about how many Syrian diplomats this will impact? Were there American citizens employed by the Syrian Embassy?
Answer: The State Department is prepared to consider, on the basis of reciprocity, the appointment of a third State to which the Syrian government may entrust the custody of the premises of its mission, together with its property and archives, and the protection of its interests. Alternatively, the Syrian government may seek the Department’s approval of its assignment of these responsibilities to a member of its locally employed staff, who is either a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States.
If such arrangements have not been finalized or approved by the Department before March 31, 2014, in accordance with Article 43 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Department will assume responsibility for ensuring the protection and preservation of the premises of the Syrian Mission, together with its property and archives.
The Syrian Ambassador departed Washington in December 2011. Yesterday’s action will impact foreign mission personnel at the Syrian Embassy. Other than the Honorary Consuls, located in Michigan and Texas, the Department is unaware of any U.S. citizens working at the Syrian Embassy.