07/31/2009, 00.00
UNITED STATES – SYRIA
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Obama extends sanctions against Syria

The White House confirms the Bush line on Damascus, accusing Syria of continuing the “political and economic instability in Lebanon” and constituting “a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
 

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The United States has decided to continue economic-diplomatic sanctions against Syria. US President Barack Obama decided to extend for one year sanctions imposed on 1 August 2007 by his predecessor, former president George W. Bush. Obama said that Syria continues “to contribute to political and economic instability in Lebanon [. . .] and constitute a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

In spite of “some positive developments in the past year” between the United States and Syria, “the actions of certain persons” with regards to Lebanon tipped the balance against lifting the sanctions.

The decision dampens hopes in a gradual normalisation of relations between the two countries. On 24 June the United States had announced in fact that it would send an ambassador to Syria after an absence of four years.

However, a few days ago State Department spokesman Ian Kelly had said that no “decision to lift the sanctions” imposed under President George W. Bush had been taken, explaining that “any changes to US sanctions require[d] close coordination with Congress”.

This answered questions raised following the second meeting on 26 July between Syrian President  Bashar al-Assad and US Mideast envoy George Mitchell. The latter had said that the United States would ease sanctions in response to requests from Damascus.

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