Syrian official says UBAF bank unlocking frozen funds for food

ABU DHABI Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:26am EST

ABU DHABI Nov 17 (Reuters) - Syrian bank accounts frozen abroad are gradually being freed up for use in food purchases, the head of Syria's General Foreign Trade Organisation (GFTO) told Reuters on Sunday, with France being the most committed to releasing the funds.

The European Union, United States and other Western countries have imposed sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's government over his crackdown on the revolt in his country, but these do not apply to food.

The Union De Banques Arabes Francaises (UBAF) has approved the release of funds for purchases, Tarek al Taweel, Director General of GFTO, said over the telephone.

"UBAF bank in France has been very cooperative," Taweel said.

France in September cleared the use of frozen Syrian bank assets to fund the export of food to the country as part of a European Union system that allows such funds to be used for humanitarian ends. (Reporting By Maha El Dahan; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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