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European Union orders new sanctions against Syria

By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times –

LONDON — The European Union slapped new sanctions on Syria on Monday, trying to tighten an economic vise around the violent regime of President Bashar Assad.

Following on similar measures in recent months, EU foreign ministers agreed to freeze the assets of several Syrian officials, impose sanctions on the country’s central bank and halt purchases of gold and gems. Syrian cargo flights are also to be banned from the EU.

The 27-nation union has already enacted sanctions against other senior Syrian leaders and state enterprises. The effects have yet to be seen, but EU leaders say that they are trying to apply as much diplomatic and economic pressure as they can against the Assad regime. Thousands of people have been reported killed by Assad’s forces since anti-government protests erupted a year ago.

The names of the Syrian officials put under sanction Monday are scheduled to be published by the EU on Tuesday.

Heading into a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed the West’s continued frustration with Russia and China for preventing stronger action against Syria at the United Nations.

“Do we have a difference of view with China and in particular with Russia? Yes, we do, and that remains a major blockage in what the international community can do,” Hague said. “I hope that China and Russia will see that it has been a mistake to take this position, that it is damaging their own interests in the Middle East, that it is wrong in the eyes of the world.”

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