US to Sanction All Who Attend Int'l Trade Exhibits in Syria

Published August 29th, 2019 - 06:54 GMT
View from high to new and old Damascus (Shutterstock)
View from high to new and old Damascus (Shutterstock)
It said it was “unacceptable and inappropriate” for businesses and individuals to participate in the 61st Damascus International Fair.

The US has threatened sanctions against the firms attending an international trade exhibition Syria, in what Russia and China have slammed as an attempt to undermine efforts to rebuild the Arab state, which is rising from the ashes of eight years of Washington-backed militancy.

In a Wednesday statement posted on Twitter, the US Embassy in Syria, which closed the mission early in the country’s eight-year-long conflict, reiterated “warnings” that any foreign company doing business with the government of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “is exposing themselves to the possibility of US sanctions.”

It said it was “unacceptable and inappropriate” for businesses and individuals to participate in the 61st Damascus International Fair.

On its Facebook page, the embassy also urged members of the public who have information on any businesses or individuals who planned to take part in the trade fair to email the US Department of Treasury with the information.

The warning came as Damascus is hosting the annual exhibition from August 28 to September 6.

The event was suspended after the conflict broke out in 2011, but resumed in 2017.

According to Syria’s official news agency (SANA) some 38 countries have participated in the trade fair, which aims to encourage foreign investment to help the war-ravaged country restore its basic infrastructure.

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Russia, a key ally of Damascus, reacted to the new US threats, saying Washington is attempting to sabotage the event and undermine the reconstruction of Syria. 

Washington’s “blatant attempts to undermine the Syrian leadership’s reconstruction efforts are harmful to Syria’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also reacted to the US’s threats.

“It is a familiar rhetoric we hear in respect of Syria and a number of other countries which have their own stance rather than dance to someone else’s tune,” said the Russian top diplomat said Monday.

Meanwhile, China’s ambassador to Damascus, Feng Biao, stressed his country's support for reconstruction of Syria, saying the US threats to impose sanctions on participants at the Damascus fair would not deter Chinese companies from taking part.

"Damascus international fair is considered as a source of power for the Syrian people and a window to develop Syria's economy," Feng said in an interview with the state news agency SANA late Tuesday, adding that 58 Chinese companies will take part in the exhibition this year.

China has said it would help with reconstruction efforts in Syria, which has seen massive destruction as a result of eight years of armed conflict.

Earlier in June, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi voiced Beijing’s support for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and its fight against terror, saying China would help with reconstruction efforts in the Arab country.

Back in March, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodon held a meeting with the Syrian President Assad in Damascus, where the two sides affirmed the need to bolster coordination between China and Damascus in “political, military, economic, cultural, and technological” fields.

Assad said some hostile powers were waging the new war against Syria by resorting to such methods as “boycotts, withdrawal of ambassadors, economic siege, and the use of terrorism.”

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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