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Europeans Slap Sanctions, Arms Embargo on Syria : Demand an End to Terrorism

November 10, 1986|Associated Press

LONDON — The Common Market agreed today to impose sanctions against Syria, including a ban on arms sales, and called on the Damascus government to "end all forms of support" for terrorist groups.

British Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe announced four measures agreed to by foreign ministers of the 12-nation Common Market and said, "We look to the Syrian authorities for a constructive response."

Besides the ban on arms sales, the measures include suspension of exchange visits by high-level officials, a review of activities of Syrian diplomatic missions and tighter surveillance of the operations of Syrian Arab Airlines.

Blamed for Bomb Attempt

The sanctions were imposed as a result of Britain's charge that Syria was behind an attempted bombing of an Israeli jet at London's Heathrow Airport last April.

Greece was the lone dissenter from today's announcement. But the Greek deputy foreign minister said Greece did not object to the measures because they had no practical impact on Greece.

"We have called on (Syria) to end all forms of support for those groups which have been involved in terrorist acts," said the Common Market statement read at a news conference by Howe, president of the trading bloc's Council of Foreign Ministers.

Further Action Necessary

"We have all agreed that further joint action is essential to protect our citizens from any possible repetition of such acts of terrorism. . . . We wish to send Syria the clearest possible message that what has happened is absolutely unacceptable."

Greece's deputy foreign minister, Theodore G. Pangalos, said Greece did not accept that Syria's government was involved in the bombing attempt.

But he told a news conference that in any event, Greece does not sell arms to Syria, has no high-level visits and already keeps close control of embassies and airlines of all countries involved in the Middle East conflict.

Syria has said the bomb plot was a conspiracy by the United States, Israel and Britain to isolate Syria and cut it out of the Middle East peace process. It circulated a document to Common Market countries rejecting British charges.

Lack of Agreement

Two weeks ago, officials of the Common Market, known formally as the European Economic Community, failed at a meeting in Luxembourg to agree on joint action against Syria.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government broke diplomatic relations with Damascus on Oct. 24 after an Arab was convicted of trying to smuggle a bomb aboard an El Al jet at Heathrow Airport on April 17. Howe said there was conclusive evidence of official Syrian involvement in the attempt to sabotage the plane and kill the 375 people on board.

The United States and Canada recalled their ambassadors from Syria to demonstrate support for Britain.

Belgium last week said it was recalling its ambassador for a week's consultation, but no other European country has followed suit.

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