EU states consider sanctions on Syria central bank, other trade

BRUSSELS Tue Feb 7, 2012 6:09am EST

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union member states are working on a new round of sanctions against Syria, which they hope to conclude by February 27, EU diplomats said on Tuesday.

The sanctions would include a freeze on the Syrian central bank's assets as well as on most transactions with it, they said. The sanctions would also ban the import and export of phosphates, diamonds, gold and other precious metals.

"A new round of financial sanctions is on the table," one diplomat said, adding that they had full backing from France and Germany.

"The sanctions would include freezing assets of the Syrian central bank and banning any transaction with it which is not deemed legitimate... Sanctions would also foresee a ban on imports and exports of phosphates, gold, precious metals and diamonds."

EU member states are also considering a ban on commercial flights to and from Syria, but agreement on this is less likely, the diplomats said.

"A realistic objective would be to get the sanctions agreed by February 27, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels, but it could also happen before," said one of the diplomats.

The sanctions talks came as Syrian forces renewed their bombardment of Homs as part of President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on a popular revolt.

(Reporting by Julien Toyer, writing by Sebastian Moffett, editing by Rex Merrifield)

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