US sanctions czar to press allies on Libya, Iran

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US sanctions czar David Cohen will travel to France and Turkey next week, hoping to keep up international pressure on regimes in Iran and Libya, the Treasury Department said Friday.

Cohen, the acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will meet senior officials in both countries during a four day visit starting Sunday.

The Treasury Department said Cohen would discuss efforts to apply "maximum pressure" on the regime of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

As fighting between Libyan rebels and forces loyal to Kadhafi has raged the United States and its allies have tried to force defections from Kadhafi's inner circle by freezing the assets of his top lieutenants.

The United States has frozen around $34 billion in Libyan assets since sanctions were introduced in February, the ever amount.

The Treasury Department said the trip would also "emphasize the importance of robust implementation of the multilateral sanctions regime on Iran."

The European Union and the United States have both hit Iran with sanctions for the country's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons and for rights abuses, but the transatlantic allies have not always seen eye-to-eye on the scale of punitive measures.

The United States has had extremely limited trade ties with Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, while major European firms continue to do business there.

© 2011 AFP

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