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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs