WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Associated Press has learned that President Barack Obama is moving ahead with tough new sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran's oil exports after determining there is enough crude on world markets to take the step without harming U.S. allies.
The congressionally mandated sanctions target foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank -- barring them from operating in the U.S. to buy or sell Iranian oil. The penalties are to take effect at the end of June.
Countries can still avoid the sanctions if they take steps to significantly reduce their imports before then.
Obama was under a deadline to decide by Friday.
A congressional source briefed on Obama's determination spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the White House had not yet announced it.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says Syria's acceptance of a United Nations-backed plan to end violence in the country does not change the U.S. view that Syrian President Bashar Assad must leave power.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the U.S. has heard promises from Assad before. He says the U.S. will view the Assad regime on its actions, not its words.
Assad said Monday that he was accepting the six-point plan first introduced by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan. The plan calls for a cease-fire and the beginning of a political dialogue that can lead to a democracy.
The Syrian opposition is deeply skeptical that Assad will carry out the plan. Assad's previous promises to meet the opposition's demands were never enacted.
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