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Syrian official says UBAF bank unlocking frozen funds for food

ABU DHABI - Syrian bank accounts frozen abroad are gradually being freed up for use to fund food purchases, the head of Syria's General Foreign Trade Organization (GFTO) told Reuters on Sunday, with France being the most committed to releasing the money.
The European Union, United States and other Western countries have imposed sanctions on President Bashar Assad's government over his crackdown on the revolt in his country, but these do not apply to food.
The Paris-based Union De Banques Arabes Francaises (UBAF) has approved the release of funds for purchases, Tarek al Taweel, Director General of GFTO, said over the telephone.
"UBAF bank in France has been very cooperative," Taweel said.
France in September cleared the use of frozen Syrian bank assets to fund the export of food to the country as part of a European Union system that allows such funds to be used for humanitarian ends.
UBAF was not immediately available for comment when contacted through phone and e-mail.
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