Canada extends sanctions against Syria

AP News
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Posted: Aug 13, 2011 4:29 PM
Canada extends sanctions against Syria

Canada has broadened economic sanctions imposed against Syria over its continuing violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, Canada's foreign affairs minister said Saturday.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada is strengthening the measures imposed in May by barring additional members of President Bashar Assad's government from traveling to Canada and freezing assets of more entities linked to the regime.

Syrian activists say at least 1,700 civilians have been killed in the government crackdown on protesters in the past five months.

The violence has generated increased pressure on the Assad regime to end the violence, Baird said.

"There's been significant movement in the Arab world in condemnations from a number of not just Arab leaders but others in the Arab world so the chorus is getting louder," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called for the international community to cut links with the Assad regime. She also urged a global trade embargo on oil and gas from Syria.

Baird admits the current measures imposed by Canada, the U.S. and other countries haven't worked, but said Canada and its allies are prepared to ramp up the pressure.

"We're very committed to this and we'll continue to work with our allies and reach out to others to take more significant action," he said.

Ottawa's measures are largely symbolic because Canada exports only about $60.73 million annually to Syria, and receives less than a tenth of that in imports.

Baird didn't hint on what additional steps Canada would consider or when further steps might be taken. He said Canada has no immediate plans to recall its ambassador to Damascus, saying the government thinks it's useful to maintain a presence in Syria.

"I think we'll leave our ambassador in Damascus as long as we think there's a value to doing that," he said.