Citing Budget, Suriname Backtracks on Yerushalayim Embassy

PARAMARIBO (Reuters) – Suriname’s president said on Thursday the South American country did not have the funds to build an embassy in Israel, reversing an announcement made last month.

“There is no budget for setting up an embassy of Suriname in Israel,” President Chandrikapersad ‘Chan’ Santokhi told the National Assembly.

Last month, Suriname’s foreign minister confirmed to Reuters the country would open an embassy in Yerushalayim, a move that likely would have stirred controversy given the city’s role in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The confirmation drew criticism from some members of the Surinamese parliament.

Currently, only the United States, Honduras, Guatemala and Kosovo have embassies in Yerushalayim rather than Tel Aviv.

Suriname appointed a nonresident ambassador, Stevanus Noordzee, to Israel in March. Santokhi said Noordzee “will continue to serve, support, give substance to the cooperative relationship, from Suriname.”

Santokhi did not rule out the future establishment of an embassy in Israel, but said the country needed “to receive a report (from the foreign minister) and see what the findings are and the recommendations are, and to take follow-up steps based on that.”

Suriname, which has a small Jewish community, is some 14% Muslim.

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