Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs
Credits: CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/QMI AGENCY
"Canada is pleased to announce that the government of Italy has agreed to serve as Canada's protecting power in Iran," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy said in a joint statement.
"The government of Italy has agreed to provide critical support in urgent cases involving Canadians who require consular assistance in Iran, among other functions."
According to international law, a nation can assign its protective and consular powers to another country if it ceases diplomatic relations with a host country.
"Canada will continue to vigorously advocate on behalf of detained Canadians, particularly those facing the death penalty, through our protecting powers and our allies," the statement said.
Iran doesn't recognize dual citizenship - a fact that has made matters more difficult for Canadian-Iranians in trouble there.
Shortly after closing the embassy in Tehran, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Canada would continue to monitor the situation on the ground in Iran from abroad.
Baird and Ablonczy's statement advises Canadians not to travel to Iran.
The Conservative government recently added Iran to its list of state sponsors of terrorism and views the regime as the most significant threat to global peace and security.