(Reuters) - Romania has withdrawn its ambassador and most of its embassy staff from Syria due to growing concerns over security in Damascus, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.
There are close links between the two countries dating from the time of Romania's communist former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who had a long and warm friendship with Bashar al-Assad's father.
While many European countries have expelled Syria's ambassadors, its envoy to Romania remains in place and security has been stepped up around the embassy in Bucharest.
"Starting from December 7 2012, the Foreign Ministry has reduced diplomatic personnel to the minimum at the Romanian Embassy in Damascus due to security reasons," it said in a statement.
"Most of the personnel, including the ambassador, have been relocated to Beirut in the Republic of Lebanon, from where they will continue to monitor the situation in Syria and, if necessary, provide required consular assistance."