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Suriname walks back pledge to open Jerusalem embassy, citing budget concerns

President Chandrikapersad Santokhi tells National Assembly he will act in line with recommendation of country’s envoy to Israel, as nation tackles devastating flooding at home

Illustrative: Suriname's Foreign Minister Albert Camdin with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem on May 30, 2022 (Jorge Novomisky/GPO)
Illustrative: Suriname's Foreign Minister Albert Camdin with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem on May 30, 2022 (Jorge Novomisky/GPO)

Suriname will not immediately pursue plans to open an embassy in Israel due to financial concerns, President Chandrikapersad Santokhi announced on Thursday.

“There is no budget for setting up an embassy,” he told the National Assembly, according to Reuters.

In the same address, Santokhi noted that the country is waiting “to receive a report” from Surinamese non-resident ambassador to Israel Stevanus Noordzee, who was appointed in late March. Santokhi told the parliament that he will act according to the report’s findings and recommendations, and “take follow-up steps based on that.”

Surinamese Foreign Minister Albert Camdin announced his country’s intention to open an embassy in Jerusalem in a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid in late May, immediately following Jerusalem Day.

The South American nation would have become the fifth to open its embassy in Jerusalem and the fourth to do so after former US president Donald Trump moved the country’s embassy there in 2018. Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo also maintain full embassies in the capital.

While some countries, including Australia and Hungary, have embassy branches or trade missions in Jerusalem, the vast majority of nations maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, citing the contested nature of the holy city.

Illustrative: Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad Santokhi at the UN headquarters, September 22, 2021. (Justin Lane/Pool Photo via AP)

Santokhi’s pledge to move the embassy also drew criticism from some members of the Surinamese Parliament when it was first announced.

In their meeting last month, Lapid and Camdin also signed a consultation agreement between their countries’ foreign ministries, and Lapid offered to send foreign aid to the country in the wake of catastrophic flooding. The floods, which began in late March, have devastated agriculture, businesses and schools and have displaced more than 3,000 families.

In late May, Santokhi declared seven out of ten of the country’s districts to be disaster areas. China, the Netherlands and Venezuela have since provided humanitarian aid.

AFP contributed to this report.

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