Syria sanctions on G8 agenda: Sarkozy

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Reinforced sanctions against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria will be on the agenda of the G8 summit of the world's most powerful leaders Thursday, President Nicolas Sarkozy said.

"Clearly, the question of strengthening sanctions against Syrian leaders needs to be asked, because the violence being used against demonstrators is unacceptable," Sarkozy told reporters in the French resort of Deauville.

"There will be discussions about this tonight," he said, before heading to a local restaurant to host a working dinner with the leaders of Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

A draft G8 statement seen by AFP urges Syria to halt "force and intimidation against the Syrian people and to engage in dialogue and fundamental reforms in response to the legitimate expression of the demand of the Syrian people."

But the document does not contain an agreement on new sanctions, and will in any case be updated following talks later Thursday and Friday.

Russia, in particular, is reportedly cool on the idea of new measures against its traditional Middle East ally, while France is among those pushing hardest for tougher sanctions against Assad's inner circle.

© 2011 AFP

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