U.S. Extends Sanctions against Syria

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JERUSALEM, Israel - U.S. President Barack Obama extended sanctions against Syria, originally imposed by former President George W. Bush on August 1, 2007.

The decision comes after the Obama administration eased some trade sanctions against Syria, including restrictions on replacement parts for the country's grounded jetliners.

The Bush administration sanctions also froze the assets of certain Syrian nationals working to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty.

"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," a statement by Obama read.

"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," it stated.

Meanwhile, last Sunday U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus.

According to Imad Mustafa, Syrian envoy to the U.S., Mitchell reiterated the Obama administration's desire to improve bilateral relations between the two countries, citing the recently lifted ban on products to the Syrian Aviation Industry.

Speaking on state television, Mustafa said the U.S. had also lifted the ban on IT hardware and software and President Obama was also contemplating removing other restrictions on U.S. exports to Syria.

Mustafa said the economic sanctions on Syria would be thoroughly discussed with a view toward improving relations with Syria.

Sources: The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post

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