France Freezes Masood Azhar Assets

Masood Azhar - Sakshi Post

New Delhi: In a strong show of support to India, France on Friday imposed financial sanctions on Pakistan-based Masood Azhar and said it will work with its European partners for putting the JeM chief's name on the EU list of persons and entities involved in terrorist acts.

The French announcement came two days after a bid, moved by it along with the US and the UK at the UN Security Council to designate the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief as a global terrorist, was blocked by China which put a technical hold. India was also a party to the proposal.

"A deadly attack took place in Pulwama on February 14, 2019, claiming over 40 victims from the Indian police forces. The JeM, which the United Nations has deemed to be a terrorist organisation since 2001, has claimed responsibility for this attack," said a joint statement by the French ministries of the interior, economy and finance, and foreign affairs.

"France has always been and always will be by India's side in the fight against terrorism," it said.

Reacting to the French decision, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "We welcome the decision taken by France to sanction Masood Azhar, Chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based & UN proscribed terrorist organisation; and responsible for the Pulwama terrorist attack."

The statement from the French ministries said the country has "decided to sanction Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets" in application of the Monetary and Financial Code.

A joint decree of the ministries of the interior, economy and finance was published on Friday in the Official Gazette, it said.

"We will raise this issue with our European partners with a view to including Masood Azhar on the European Union list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts, based on this decree," the statement added.

Later, the MEA said ?French Foreign Minister Le Drian had a telephonic conversation with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and informed her about the action taken by France to sanction Azhar.

"France has sanctioned Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets. French Foreign Minister also informed that France has raised this issue with the European Union," it said.

China on Wednesday for a fourth time blocked the move for listing Azhar as a global terrorist.

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UNSC was moved by France, the UK and the US on February 27, days after a suicide bomber of the JeM killed 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.

The Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee members had 10 working days to raise any objections to the proposal. Just before the deadline, China put a "technical hold" on the proposal. (PTI)

Also Read: Masood Azhar Fearlessly Roamed Around Delhi

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