DAMASCUS, Syria — The Arab League boycott office announced Sunday that it has lifted a ban on Coca-Cola and slapped one on companies owned by media tycoon Robert Maxwell for commercial dealings with Israel.
The Coca-Cola Co., based in Atlanta, had been on the blacklist for more than 20 years for doing business with Israel.
But it was unofficially removed two years ago. Egypt, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have permitted bottling plants, and Coca-Cola sponsored a World Youth Soccer tournament in Saudi Arabia in 1989.
Coca-Cola spokesman Carlton Curtis said Sunday afternoon that the company had not been notified about the lifting of the boycott.
"We have been hearing that rumor for some time. But we haven't received any official notice of that action," he said. "If it turns out to be true, of course, we would be very pleased with that."
A blacklisted company is banned both from operations and sales in Arab countries, though some nations enforce bans more than others.
Maxwell, the British-based publisher, apparently fell afoul of the boycott office for his 1988 purchase of one-third of Israel's Maariv newspaper. He later increased that stake.
He is also on the board of the Jerusalem Post but does not hold a financial interest in it.