EU says Assad must step down, plans more sanctions

BRUSSELS Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:03am EDT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday to step down, following a similar call by the United States, and threatened to toughen its sanctions against his regime.

"The EU has repeatedly emphasized that the brutal repression must be stopped ... The Syrian leadership, however, has remained defiant," the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

"This shows that the Syrian regime is unwilling to change... The EU notes the complete loss of Bashar al-Assad's legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the necessity for him to step aside," she said.

Ashton said the EU's 27 governments were preparing to extend their list of Syrian entities targeted by EU sanctions and discussing ways to broaden the bloc's measures against Assad.

"The EU is moving ahead with discussing further restrictive measures that will broaden its sanctions against the Syrian regime. By these efforts we continue to aim at assisting the Syrian people to achieve their legitimate aspirations," she said.

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