By Arab News
The Arab League chief has urged Syria to sign an Arab plan requiring it to stop a violent crackdown on protesters and said this would lead to a review of sanctions and other steps taken against Damascus, Egypt’s official news agency reported on Monday.
The appeal was made in a letter from League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem. He wrote that signing the deal would lead to “a review of all the measures which the League council took.”
However, Moualem said the Arab League decision had closed off attempts to reach a deal to end eight months of violence. He told a televised news conference that his country had made every effort to find a way out of the crisis. “Yesterday, with the decision they took, they closed these windows,” he said.
Arab foreign ministers voted to back sweeping economic sanctions on Syria in a meeting in Cairo on Sunday after it disregarded a deadline to sign the plan.
A committee made up of senior Arab officials will meet on Wednesday to identify which senior Syrian officials should have their assets frozen and be banned from traveling to Arab states, the Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.
The committee’s conclusions will be discussed at an Arab ministerial meeting to be held in Doha on Saturday, it said.
EU agrees new financial sanctions
Meanwhile, European Union governments agreed to impose additional financial sanctions on Syria, an EU diplomat said.
The new measures include a ban on long-term financial support for trade, excluding food and medicine, and on loans to the government, both bilateral and through international financial institutions.
Under the new measures, to be approved formally by EU foreign ministers on Thursday, EU companies will also be prohibited from trading in Syrian state debt.
Banks from Syria will also be banned from opening branches in EU countries or investing in European banks.
“All these measures are aimed at cutting off the financial flows to the Syrian government,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The decision will also extend the list of people, institutions and companies targeted by EU asset freezes and travel bans by 12 persons and at least 11 entities.