EU expected to tighten sanctions on Syria, Iran
The European Union is expected to apply sanctions on Syria to more individuals, while also tightening measures in response to Iran's nuclear policy, at a meeting of foreign ministers next week, senior EU sources said Thursday, DPA reported.
Rather than applying new sanctions on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, member states have agreed to extend the existing measures to around 20 additional individuals and two entities, a source said on condition of anonymity.
The ministers are also expected to discuss humanitarian assistance to civilians, regional implications of the Syrian conflict and efforts to forge unity among Syria's fractured opposition, during their talks in Luxembourg on Monday.
Ahead of the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for an informal dinner late Sunday.
But no progress was expected on the ongoing differences with Russia over Syria, whose regime still enjoys Moscow's support, the source said.
Regarding Iran's nuclear programme, member states were still discussing a range of options to increase sanctions on Tehran in the energy, transport and financial sector, as well as extending existing sanctions to new individuals, the source said.
Meanwhile Ashton was also maintaining contact with Iranian nuclear negotiator Saed Jalili, the source said, adding that much depended on the outcome of the US elections next month.
The ministers are also due to address developments in Mali following the Touareg rebellion in the north, and propose assistance - such as training government security forces - ahead of a meeting in Bamako next week to coordinate steps with African and international actors.
They were also due to take stock of the situation in Belarus, where elections last month failed to meet international standards, as well as developments in Georgia, whose polls last week met with EU approval.