EU May Extend Syria Sanctions to Include Bashar Assad
The European Union may consider extending sanctions against Syria to include President Bashar Assad himself, EU diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton said Thursday.
"President Assad is not on the list but that does not mean the foreign ministers won't return to this subject," Ashton told Austrian Oe1 public radio in an interview broadcast on Thursday.
Assad's name is currently not included on a list of 13 Syrian officials targeted by EU sanctions.
When questioned on the matter in the EU parliament earlier this week, Ashton argued that sanctions were targeted at those directly involved in cracking down on protests.
The range of sanctions includes an arms embargo along with a travel ban and assets freeze targeting Assad's brother, four of his cousins and others in his inner circle.
But Ashton has left the door open to widening the sanctions to include Assad himself.
In the Austrian radio interview, she dismissed suggestions the current sanctions are too weak.
It was not easy to convince all 27 of the bloc's foreign ministers, Ashton said.
Diplomatic sources say that Germany, in particular, was long opposed to such a move.
"There are different views and that's not surprising," the EU diplomacy chief said.
Her aim was to hit those directly involved in cracking down on the protests.
That was why she was calling on the foreign ministers to "take the window of opportunity to do so before it closes."