Ban on shopping for Bashar’s wife

European Union states are set to ban Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife Asma from travel to and shopping in the EU, diplomats said, cranking up pressure on his government to end a bloody crackdown on popular unrest. A British-born former investment banker who had once cultivated an image of a woman inspired by Western values, Asma al-Assad has become a hate figure for many Syrians. In recent weeks she became the focus of media attention when a trove of emails between her and her husband obtained by Britain’s Guardian newspaper appeared to show them shopping for pop music and luxury items while Syria descended into bloodshed. The EU has responded to Syria’s violence with a broad range of sanctions, which include a ban on Syrian oil imports to Europe and measures against the Syrian central bank and other companies and state institutions. On Friday, it is expected to take new steps. For Asma, they will mean she will no longer be able to travel to the EU or buy products from EU-based companies, in her own name. Foreign ministers of EU member states are set to agree on a new round of measures, the bloc’s 13th, and impose asset freezes and bans on travel to the EU against 12 people, include Asma. A prohibition for European companies to do business with two more Syrian entities is also planned. “The text (of sanctions) has gone through,” said one EU diplomat, referring to an agreement reached by EU envoys in Brussels to a list of new sanctions. Another diplomat confirmed Assad’s wife is included in the list of sanctioned individuals. The list still needs formal approval from ministers. It will become public on Saturday when new sanctions are due to go into effect.

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