EU members agree on Libya sanctions

Friday, February 25, 2011

BERLIN/BRUSSELS - European Union nations agreed Friday to impose an arms embargo on Libya and slap a visa ban and asset freeze on members of the regime, the German foreign office said.

The embargo is to cover both military hardware and goods which could be used to crack down on pro-democracy demonstrators. The decision is to be formalised next week, officials in Berlin said.

The exact list of people to be targeted is not known. However, the sanctions are expected to target Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi and his clan and allies, since EU officials have repeatedly said that he is directly responsible for the crackdown.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers condemned the bloody repression launched by Gaddafi against pro-democracy demonstrators, but decided not to impose sanctions. With the violence continuing unchecked, the bloc has since come under immense pressure to take action.

On Wednesday, member states agreed to suspend the licensing of arms exports and freeze talks on a planned EU-Libya cooperation agreement.

Diplomats said that southern EU states such as Italy had been reluctant to impose further sanctions out of fears that Gaddafi could launch reprisals against the thousands of EU citizens still in Libya, or send a wave of migrants across the Mediterranean.

By Friday, EU officials said that some 3,400 EU citizens were still in Libya, with 3,600 evacuated in recent days.

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