Japan expands Syria sanction reach

AFP , Tuesday 27 Nov 2012

Japan expands reach of its sanctions on Syrian government, ahead of Tokyo meeting that will attempt to step up pressure on regime

Japan said Tuesday it was expanding the reach of its sanctions against the Syrian government, in a gesture ahead of a meeting this week in Tokyo aimed at increasing pressure on the regime.

In September last year Tokyo imposed a freeze on assets held in Japan by the Syrian president and military leaders, in concert with European countries and the United States.

Tokyo has also banned chartered flights from Syria since July.

On Tuesday, Japan expanded the list of those subject to sanctions, adding 36 individuals and 19 entities, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Those added include central bank governor Mayaleh Adib, Prime Minister Al-Halqi Wael Nader, more than a dozen of his ministers, and Syrian Petroleum Company.

A total of 59 individuals and 35 entities are now affected, the statement said.

The meeting on Friday will bring together senior government officials from the "Friends of Syria Group" supporting the Syrian opposition and will focus on making sanctions more effective.

It will be the first time the gathering has been held in Asia, with previous meetings of the group in Paris in April, Washington in June, Doha in July and The Hague in September.

Syria's foreign ministry has lashed out at the planned meeting and demanded Tokyo call it off, but Japanese officials said it would go ahead.

Conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011 when Assad's forces moved to crush pro-reform protests, triggering an armed uprising.

More than 40,000 people have been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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