News / Europe

European Foreign Ministers Add Sanctions to Syria, Iran

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (2nd L) greets European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton (2nd R) during an EU foreign ministers meeting at the EU Council in Brussels, May 23, 2011
France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (2nd L) greets European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton (2nd R) during an EU foreign ministers meeting at the EU Council in Brussels, May 23, 2011
Lisa Bryant

European foreign ministers have agreed to impose sanctions against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in a toughening response to Damascus' crackdown against popular protests. The ministers also agreed to extend sanctions against Iran.

The latest European sanctions against Syria and Iran respond to the fast-paced developments in the Middle East, which include the turmoil in Libya and the Middle East peace process.

European Union foreign ministers agreed to slap an assets freeze and visa ban against President Bashar al-Assad and nine other members of his government. They also imposed asset freezes and travel bans against about 100 Iranian officials and companies with links to Iran's nuclear program.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague hailed both moves.

"I think it is very important that the European Union is taking this stand and taking it in such a united way," he said. "And I also particularly want to welcome the intensified sanctions against Iran. It is important not to forget while so many things are happening and changing in the Middle East, that Iran continues with its nuclear program."

European and other world powers fear Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The E.U. sanctions against Assad follow a similar move last week by Washington, as Syria continues to violently repress anti-government protests. In a keynote speech on the Middle East, President Barack Obama called for Assad to either allow a political transition to democracy or to step aside.

E.U. foreign ministers also discussed toughening their response to another restive Arab country, Libya. Hague said there was a need to intensify military, economic and diplomatic pressure against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

"I think that intensification of pressure is making progress, is steadily working, although we do not know how long that will take," Hague said.

On Sunday, the European Union also opened a diplomatic office in Libya's rebel stronghold in Benghazi. The move strengthens the rebels' profile, but falls short of formal, diplomatic recognition.

The ministers also welcomed Obama's call for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians to be based on 1967 borders. E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton spoke to reporters on the matter.

"We believe that is a good place to begin the negotiations," she said. "Most importantly, we believe it is in Israel's real interest for the people of Israel, for the people of Palestine to get those negotiations moving now."

The Middle East also is expected to be high on the agenda later this week, when leaders from the G8 group of nations meet in the French city of Deauville.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to the Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid