Canada sets down sanctions on Syria

May 25, 2011 at 7:44 AM

OTTAWA, May 25 (UPI) -- Canada has imposed export and travel sanctions on Syria for its ongoing violent repression of civil demonstrations, the foreign affairs minister announced.

Minister John Baird made the announcement after a meeting of the cabinet committee on national security headed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Globe and Mail reported Wednesday.

"We urge Syrian authorities to respect the rights of people to freedom of assembly and to freedom of expression," Baird said. "We call on certain authorities to immediately stop using force against peaceful demonstrators."

The sanctions include travel restrictions barring senior Syrian officials, including President Bashar Assad, from entering Canada. It also cuts most Canadian exports to Syria, including weaponry. Exports totaled $61 million in 2009, trade statistics show.

The government had already cautioned Canadians from traveling to Syria because of the violence that began in March, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.

The United States and European Union imposed sanctions against Damascus weeks ago, but Canada's delay was caused by the May 2 federal election, Baird said.

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