Arab League rejects Syria intervention at EU talks
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi arrives on December 1, 2011, at the EU headquarters in Brussels for a meeting with the Foreign Affairs Council. AFP PhotoArab League chief Nabil al-Arabi rejected any foreign intervention in Syria on Thursday as he joined European Union talks aimed at ramping up pressure on the regime over its crackdown on dissidents.
"We reject any accusation that the Arab League is inviting any intervention," Arabi said on arrival for a lunch with EU foreign ministers, who slapped a new round of economic sanctions on Damascus.
"Every decision taken by the Arab League rejects an intervention," he added, days after the pan-Arabic body imposed its own unprecedented sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused "some League members" this week of "pushing to internationalise the conflict." EU officials were hoping to join forces with the Arab League in order to pile pressure on Assad.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "very pleased" with the the sanctions approved by the League and that Arabi and EU ministers would try to determine "the best and most appropriate ways that we can collaborate." "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 adopted 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 those offered by the markets.
The goal is to restrict the regime's access to cash.
The EU also added 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.