Arab League, EU hold talks to team up against Syria
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
A giant portrait of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is carried in a sea of thousands of Syrian demonstrators in the capital Damascus on November 28, 2011. AFP PhotoArab League chief Nabil al-Arabi was joining European Union foreign ministers on Thursday for talks aimed at forming a united front to stop Syria from violently repressing protesters.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "very pleased" with the unprecedented sanctions that the Arab League slapped on Syria last weekend.
The ministers, who were set to adopt a new raft of EU sanctions against Damascus, and Arabi will try to determine over lunch "the best and most appropriate ways that we can collaborate," Ashton added.
"We want to work with the Arab League to discuss how they want to go forward and how effective they think their sanctions are going to be," she said.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the Arab League sanctions were "historic" and that the EU would discuss how "we synchronize our measures." "I think it is very important that our answer to the repression and to the atrocities in Syria is a united answer," he said, adding that Europeans would also keep trying to get a UN Security Council resolution on Syria.
EU ministers are expected to adopt bans on exporting gas and oil industry equipment to Syria, trading Syrian government bonds and selling software that could be used to monitor Internet and telephone communications, diplomats said.
European governments will also be barred from providing concessional loans to Syria -- credit at lower rates and longer grace periods than what is offered by the markets.
The goal is to cut the regime's access to cash.
The EU will also add 12 more individuals and 11 more entities to a blacklist of people and companies hit by assets freezes and travel bans over the regime's crackdown on protesters, diplomats said.
The EU has passed nine rounds of sanctions against Syria, placing 74 people on the list, including Assad, enforcing an arms embargo and banning imports of Syrian crude oil.
The UN says the violence has killed more than 3,500 people since mid-March.