EU to Tighten Financial, Oil sanctions on Syria

The European Union will tighten sanctions against Syria's oil and financial sectors this week to punish the regime over its crackdown on protesters, a European diplomat said Monday.

EU foreign ministers meeting Thursday will adopt a raft of sanctions including bans on exporting gas and oil industry equipment to Syria, trading Syrian government bonds and selling software that could be used to monitor Internet and telephone communications, the diplomat said.

European governments will also be barred from providing concessional loans to Syria -- credit at lower rates and longer grace periods than what is offered by the markets.

The goal of the new sanctions is to "cut the regime's access to money," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

The ministers will also add 12 more individuals and a least 11 more entities to a blacklist of people and companies hit by assets freezes and travel bans, the source added.

The EU has passed seven rounds of sanctions against Syria, placing 74 people on the list, including President Bashar al-Assad, enforcing an arms embargo and banning imports of Syrian crude oil.

The Arab League slapped its own, unprecedented sanctions at the weekend, including an immediate ban on transactions with the Syrian government and central bank, and a freeze on Syrian government assets in Arab countries.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has invited Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi to attend the talks in Brussels on Thursday.

Source: Agence France Presse

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