BRUSSELS (Oct. 25)
The 12 European Community foreign ministers agreed this week to continue sanctions the E.C. imposed on Syria four years ago because of its involvement in international terrorism.
Diplomatic sources here credited the decision to a firm stand Monday taken by Britain’s Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd at a meeting of the ministers in Luxembourg.
Although several member states had favored lifting the penalties to reward Damascus for its support of Western efforts to reverse Iraq’s conquest of Kuwait, Hurd insisted the time was not yet ripe for such a move.
“The original obstacle was connected with state support for terrorism. I would like to get that obstacle out of the way but it has not happened yet,” Hurd reportedly told his colleagues.
The sanctions were applied in 1986 at Britain’s initiative, after London accused Syria of being involved in an aborted attempt to blow up an El Al airliner at Heathrow Airport.
They included a ban on arms sales to Syria, suspension of high-level contacts with the Syrians and close monitoring of Syrian diplomatic personnel and Syrian airline employees.
Some diplomatic observers said the tough stand of Britain was not the only reason the sanctions were retained.
The E.C. ministers were said to be angered by recent events in Lebanon, where Syrian troops played a major part in ousting dissident Gen. Michel Aoun from his East Beirut stronghold.
According to reports, Christians were massacred after the Syrians took control, including long-time Christian leader Dany Chamoun.