Obama maintains Syria sanctions

Restrictions continued despite US president's attempts to engage with Damascus.

    The US sanctions were maintained despite improving ties between Syria and Lebanon [AFP] 

    But Obama said that some Syrians and their supporters "continue to contribute to political and economic instability in Lebanon and the region and constitute a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States".

    Engaging Damascus

    Obama extending sanctions that were imposed on August 1, 2007 by George Bush, his predecessor.

    The restrictions place a freeze on the assets of individuals accused of harming Lebanon's sovereignty on Syria's behalf.

    The move to keep the sanctions in place comes as the Obama administration aims to improve relations with Syria, an ally of Iran.

    George Mitchell, the US special envoy to the Middle East, met Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, earlier in the week in an attempt to encourage Damascus to become further involved in the regional peace process.

    The Obama administration recently relaxed trade sanctions against Syria as part of a move to engage with Damascus.

    Syrian army troops and intelligence officers were pulled out of Lebanon in 2005 after a 29-year presence in the country, in the wake of public anger at the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister.

    Damascus has denied having any involvement in Hariri's death, which is the subject of a UN-mandated special tribunal in the Netherlands.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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