As she urged an UN resolution on a transition in Syria backed by sanctions, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Russia and China would pay a price as the two nations were “holding up progress” in Syria.
“We should go back and ask for a resolution in the Security Council that imposes real and immediate consequences for non-compliance, including sanctions under Chapter 7,” which covers economic measures to military force, Clinton said.
Talking at the so-called “Friends of Syria” meeting in Paris, she called on the 100 nations and organizations in the conference to “reach out to Russia and China” to demand that they “get off the sidelines and begin to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.”
Taking a tough tone, she said she thought the two nations did “not believe they are paying any price at all for standing up on behalf of the regime” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear, that Russia and China will pay a price. They are holding up progress, blockading it. That is no longer tolerable,” Clinton said.
But she ‘praised’ the “progress” that had been made, saying there is “a steady, inexorable march towards ending this regime.”
She also ‘condemned’ countries at the meeting who had agreed to work towards helping the Syrian people, but who were not imposing sanctions, allowing Assad to stay in power.
“What is keeping him afloat, is money from Iran and assistance from Russia and the failure of countries here to tighten and enforce sanctions,” she said.
“You cannot call for transition on the one hand and give the government a free pass on sanctions on the other.”
|06-07-2012 – 14:16 Last updated 06-07-2012 – 15:02|
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed on Thursday that some of its Western partners had asked Moscow to offer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asylum but said it had dismissed the idea as a joke.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the idea was first raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her June 1 talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Berlin.
“Our side thought this was a joke and responded with a joke – how about you, the Germans, take Mr. Assad instead,” Lavrov said during a joint press appearance with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle.
Lavrov said he was “quite surprised” when the idea was raised again during a meeting of Western and regional powers on the crisis in Geneva on Saturday.
“While discussing the subject of Syria, I heard them say they were convinced that we would take him and thus resolve all the problems of the Syrian people,” Russia’s top diplomat said.
“This is either a dishonest attempt to deceive serious people involved in foreign policy or a misunderstanding of the facts.”
Russia has previously rejected the idea of hosting the Syrian strongman while refusing to say whether it had actually been approached on the subject by the West.
Putin himself was forced to dismiss such speculation just days after his election to an historic third term in March.
Lavrov once again argued that any attempts at forced regime change were doomed to end in even greater violence.
“Yes, the regime bears the main responsibility. And governments bear the main responsibility for ensuring the security of their people,” said Lavrov.
But those who seek regime change in Syria “ignore the fact that we are not talking about a few dozen people — as they tell us we are — but a very large part of the Syrian population that ties its security to the current president,” he stressed.
| The United States is set to call for tough new U.N. sanctions against President Bashar Assad and his regime figures, as over 100 Western and Arab nations meet Friday in Paris for “Friends of Syria” talks.
However, key Syria allies Russia and China — which both hold U.N. veto rights — are not attending, which belies the claims of changing attitudes in Moscow.
China did not attend either of those meetings, in which the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Arab nations Saudi Arabia and Qatar led a group of more than 60 members, including most EU states and many Arab League nations.
The United States will lead calls at the Paris talks for a tough new U.N. sanctions regime to be imposed on Assad, Washington officials said Thursday.
Speaking as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Paris for the Friends of Syria meeting, one official said it was time “to put this all together under a Security Council resolution that increases the pressure on Assad, including having real consequences” such as economic sanctions.
“We believe most of the countries represented in Paris, and think that has to include Chapter 7 economic sanctions on Assad,” the official said aboard Clinton’s plane and asking to remain anonymous, referring to a clause within the U.N. charter.
The chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which allows for sanctions ranging from economic measures to an arms embargo – and if necessary military force – was last used against Libya last year. But it could be highly controversial at the U.N. Security Council, given Russia and China’s veto powers.
Paris talks will include a condemnation of the repression and an announcement of “concrete measures” to put pressure on the regime and to support the people and the opposition, a Western diplomatic source told Agence France Presse.
China backed Russia at talks in Geneva last weekend, insisting that Syrians must decide how the transition should occur, rather than allowing others to dictate their fate, and did not rule out Assad remaining in power.
The West insists that Assad should not be part of any new unity government and the Syrian opposition rejected the Geneva talks as making concessions to Damascus under pressure from Russia.