EU foreign ministers slap sanctions on Syria | News | DW | 15.10.2012
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EU foreign ministers slap sanctions on Syria

EU foreign ministers have passed a series of bans against President Bashar Assad which they hope can help end Syria's civil war. Monday's talks have also produced tougher measures against Iran.

Monday's meeting in Luxembourg of the EU's foreign ministers resulted in travel bans and asset freezes against 28 Syrians, bringing the total number of sanctions against individuals allied with President Assad to 181. They also blacklisted two companies, raising the total number of sanctioned companies to almost 55.

EU foreign ministers were scheduled to round off the meeting with fresh sanctions against Iran.

A diplomatic source speaking to the news agency AFP on condition of anonymity said that they were expected to be "one of the toughest packages of sanctions" against the country.

Turkey reveals massive refugee numbers

The news out of Luxembourg coincided with further evidence from Turkey of the dire need for a solution to a conflict that has undermined stability in the region. According to a statement released by the Turkish disaster agency (AFAD) on Monday, over 100,000 Syrians are living in refugee camps in Turkey.

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Tensions increase between Turkey and Syria

Meanwhile, UN envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi called for a temporary ceasefire in Syria at the end of October in order to open up a space for dialogue.

"[He] appealed to the Iranian authorities to assist in achieving a ceasefire in Syria during the forthcoming Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest holidays celebrated by the Muslims around the world," said a statement issued by Brahimi's office.

Brahimi concluded his visit to the Iranian capital on Monday, where he met with the country's top officials.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has estimated that 33,000 have been killed in the conflict since March 2011.

EU to get tough on Iran

Following efforts in recent months to diffuse what diplomats see as a major threat to peace and stability in the Middle East - Iran's alleged possession of nuclear weapons - foreign ministers from the European Union agreed to adopt new financial and trade sanctions against the country.

The sanctions, which target the EU's bank dealings with Iran, as well as trade and gas imports, are expected to further cripple its economy.

Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton said that Iran and the EU could still negotiate with each other, adding that the sanctions could persuade the country to make concessions and resume talks "very soon."

"I do hope we will able to move forward soon with our discussions with Iran," Ashton told the news agency AP.

The White House welcomed the new sanctions, with spokesman Jay Carney saying the move "further strengthens international efforts to pressure and isolate the Iranian government."

kms,dr/ccp (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)

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