Lebanon to enforce Syria sanctions: Minister
AFP, Wednesday 30 Nov 2011
Minister vows to abide by Arab League sanctions on Syria but says Lebanon already has no trade links with Syrian government

Lebanon will enforce Arab League sanctions imposed on neighbouring Syria even though it did not back the punitive measures, Economy Minister Nicola Nahhas told AFP on Wednesday.

"We are committed to implementing the Arab League sanctions," Nahhas said, pointing out that the Syrian government in any case had no trade dealings with Lebanon.

"The Lebanese state has no trade dealings or financial transactions, neither with the Syrian government nor the central bank," he said.

Nahhas said the Arab League sanctions were clear in that while no transactions could take place with the Syrian government, that did not apply to the private sector.

He said Lebanese banks however would have no dealings with the Syrian central bank or any individuals targeted by the sanctions.

Damascus has no funds deposited in the Lebanese central bank and there is therefore no need to act on the Arab League sanctions, governor Riad Salameh said on Monday.

In an unprecedented move, the pan-Arab bloc on Sunday approved a raft of sanctions against Syria to pressure Damascus to end its deadly crackdown against an eight-month revolt.

The sanctions include freezing government assets, suspending cooperation with Syria's central bank and halting funding for projects in the country.

Lebanon, whose government is dominated by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah movement, disassociated itself from the vote at the Arab League.

Syria has long held sway in Lebanese politics and the revolt threatening the regime in Damascus has deepened a rift between the ruling pro-Syrian bloc headed by Hezbollah and an anti-Syrian opposition headed by Sunni ex-premier Saad Hariri.