Germany seeks wider European cooperation on Russia sanctions

BERLIN, July 30 Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:15pm EDT

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BERLIN, July 30 (Reuters) - Germany and the European Union are trying to convince several non-EU countries to join the bloc and United States in imposing sanctions against Russia for its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman at Berlin's Foreign Ministry said Germany was in talks with countries such as Switzerland and Turkey about imposing sanctions against Russia after the EU and the United States on Tuesday announced further measures targeting Russia's energy, banking and defence sectors.

"There are discussions taking place with countries such as Switzerland and Turkey," the spokeswoman said after another senior official had earlier told Reuters of efforts in Berlin to broaden the list of countries taking action against Moscow.

Germany, which had been among the more cautious about imposing sanctions against Russia, is now taking a leading role on pressing more countries to impose sanctions while the United States is lobbying Asian governments to join.

In Singapore, a senior U.S. State Department official said the United States was lobbying Asian states, increasingly important for Russian trade, to join in the sanctions.

The official said he had already been to Beijing and Seoul this week to speak with senior government officials and business leaders, and would be in Tokyo on Friday.

Switzerland, a popular destination for many rich Russians and an important hub for their banking and trading activities, has so far not imposed sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, although it has vowed not to serve as a route to bypass EU sanctions.

Some of the measures imposed by the 28-nation EU will in practice also apply in Switzerland, however, because it is a member of the bloc's passport-free Schengen zone, the Swiss government has said.

Around 75 percent of Russian crude oil exports are traded through Geneva, according to the Swiss government, and Russian assets in Swiss banks stood at nearly 13.8 billion francs ($15.2 billion) in 2012, according to the Swiss National Bank. ($1 = 0.9096 Swiss Francs) (Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva; Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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