Obama extends sanctions on Syria despite diplomatic thaw
U.S.: Syria sanctions to continue over attempts to maintain instability in neighboring Lebanon.
U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to extend sanctions against Syria, despite positive signs of progress in the relationship between the two nations, a White House statement said Friday.
The decision to maintain current sanctions against the Syrian government, the statement said, comes as a result of continuing attempts to maintain instability in neighboring Lebanon.
"In the past six months, the United States has used dialogue with the Syrian government to address concerns and identify areas of mutual interest, including support for Lebanese sovereignty," the statement said.
President Obama admitted that there have been "some positive developments in the past year, including the establishment of diplomatic relations and an exchange of ambassadors between Lebanon and Syria."
However, the statement continued, ultimately "the actions of certain persons continue to contribute to political and economic instability in Lebanon and the region and constitute a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
As a result of these actions, the White House has decided to extend by an additional year the sanctions initiated by former president George W. Bush on August 1, 2007.
The sanctions include the freezing of assets of those individuals suspected of undermining Lebanon's sovereignty on Syria's behalf.
Obama's administration has moved toward improving U.S. ties with Syria, with the hope that, being a key player in the region, it could play an influential role in Lebanon, Iraq or in advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.