Iran removing Bulgarian ambassador

Feb. 10, 2013 at 10:13 AM

SOFIA, Bulgaria, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Officials in Bulgaria said Sunday Iran is recalling its ambassador because his term is up, not because Hezbollah has been blamed for a bus attack in Burgas.

Bulgarian officials announced Tuesday a suicide bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver in July was tied to the military arm of Hezbollah, which has support from Iran.

Iran announced its ambassador to Bulgaria, Gholamreza Bageri, is returning to Iran. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported the ambassador's removal is because of the accusations against Hezbollah and that Iran plans to downgrade its relations to Bulgaria.

Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vessela Cherneva told Evropa television "that's not true."

"The term of Iran's ambassador to Sofia expires at the end of this week. A new envoy, who was appointed months ago, will arrive in Bulgaria on the next day," she said.

Earlier this week, Bageri denied Iran had anything to do with the deadly bombing, Sofia News Agency reported.

"This (the attack) has nothing to do with Iran," he said. "We are against any form of terrorism and strongly condemn such actions."

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