Tokyo confab calls for stronger sanctions against Syria

Kyodo

Japan and 66 countries and organizations gathered in Tokyo for multilateral talks to discuss the strife in Syria called Friday for stronger sanctions against President Bashar Assad’s regime to halt its attacks on civilians.

In a joint statement issued after the one-day meeting, they urged all countries to “increase pressure on the Syrian regime by implementing and enforcing measures to deny it access to the resources needed for its violent campaign against its own population.”

The working-level talks, cochaired by Japan, Morocco and the European External Action Service, an arm of the European Union, were attended by more than 60 countries supporting Syrian opposition forces, including Asian, Arab and European countries, as well as representatives of the Syrian opposition forces.

“President Assad still does not take heed of civilian sacrifice, and he maintains the stance of total resistance,” Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said in his remarks. “For the resolution of the Syrian problem, it is first important for the international community to increase pressure on the Syrian government.”

The joint statement from the Friends of the Syrian People International Working Group on Sanctions calls for an asset freeze on senior Syrian officials and major banks tied to the regime, and a ban on arms shipments and an embargo on Syrian petroleum products.

The first meeting of the multilateral group was held in April, and the last one in the Netherlands in September. The next and sixth such meeting will be held in Bulgaria in February.

Russia and China, which have resisted U.N. efforts to impose sanctions on Syria, were not invited to the talks.

Japan has frozen the assets of those connected to the regime since September last year, subjecting an additional 36 individuals and 19 organizations to asset freezes Tuesday to bring the total to 59 individuals and 35 organizations.