Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier suggested the expulsion of Ambassador John Mundy, who was recently appointed but has not yet had his credentials accepted, was a tit-for-tat move by the government in Tehran.
Canada and Iran have tried to come to an agreement on an exchange of ambassadors for some time.
"Unfortunately, we have as yet been unable to accept the candidates Tehran has submitted," Bernier said in a statement. "We believe that the expulsion of our ambassador is an unfortunate and unjustified consequence of this situation. As always, Canada remains prepared to receive an Iranian ambassador provided a suitable candidate is presented," he said.
The statement did not explain why the Iranian candidates had been unacceptable to Canada.
"Iran has been refusing to let our ambassador present his credentials and thereby fully assume his duties," Foreign Affairs spokesman Shaun Tinkler said. "They've decided to downgrade our relations."
Bernier said the Canadian Embassy in Iran now will be headed by the charge d'affaires, the No. 2 diplomat. Both countries will continue to maintain embassies in the respective capitals and conduct normal operations, the release said.
The diplomatic slap came one day after the Iranian charge d'affaires expressed frustration that his country's overtures to Canada were being ignored by the Canadian government.
Seyed Mahdi Mohebi said in an interview with The Canadian Press that he has twice asked for a resumption of high-level contacts up to the foreign minister level.
Calls to the Iranian Embassy were not immediately returned Monday.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Aralık 2007, 09:32