- Associated Press - Friday, February 24, 2012

TUNIS, Tunisia — The European Union will freeze the assets of Syria’s central bank at its meeting on Monday, the French foreign minister said Friday, in the latest effort to pressure Syria to halt its bloody crackdown on an 11-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad.

Alain Juppe made the announcement at a conference being held in Tunisia for the “Friends of Syria,” in which some 60 countries gathered to call for an end to the fighting in Syria.

“On Monday we will take strong new measure, notably freezing the assets of the Syrian Central Bank,” said Juppe to the delegates during the closed session. The comments were later released.

Juppe encouraged other countries to follow the European Union’s lead and deepen their sanctions against the Assad regime.

The EU has already imposed sanctions targeting more than 70 people and 19 organizations, but have so far failed to stop the Damascus’ crackdown.

Officials have also said that a joint U.N.-Arab League peacekeeping force will be planned to police the eventual cease-fire agreement. The conference is calling for the implementing of an Arab League initiative that provides for Assad to step down.

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