EU reaches deal to lift Syrian arms sanctions

 
City A.M. Reporter
EUROPEAN Union governments reached a political deal yesterday to extend all EU financial and economic sanctions on Syria for one year – but agreed to end an embargo on supplying arms to opposition forces in the country.

EU governments will refrain from any arms deliveries to Syria for now, diplomats said.

Britain and France had pushed hard for the easing of the arms embargo to support rebels ahead of a peace conference sponsored by the United States and Russia expected next month. Austria headed the camp of five of the EU’s 27 governments opposed to sending arms that they believe could deepen the two-year-old conflict.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the decision:

“Tonight EU nations agreed to bring the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition to an end. This was the outcome that the United Kingdom wanted,” he said.

“It was a difficult decision for some countries, but it was necessary and right to reinforce international efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria.

“It was important for Europe to send a clear signal to the Assad regime that it has to negotiate seriously, and that all options remain on the table if it refuses to do so. Tonight EU nations have done just that.”