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Clinton wants tougher UN move on Syria

19 April 2012, 21:35

Paris - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Thursday for the UN Security Council to adopt a global arms embargo and other tough measures against Syria to reinforce existing Western embargoes if the country fails to abide by a ceasefire designed to end 13 months of bloodshed.

Clinton stopped short of calling for outside military intervention in Syria - something there is little to no foreign appetite for - but said it was time to impose more consequential measures on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"We have to keep Assad off balance by leaving options on the table," she told a Paris meeting of top Western and Arab diplomats from the so-called "Friends of Syria" group.

Clinton's address made clear the US has little faith in the success of special envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan. But although US policy has amounted to an acknowledgment that Assad is unlikely to be dislodged, the UN resolution Clinton seeks could strengthen Syrian rebels fighting the Syrian strongman.

Any attempt to push for UN sanctions on Syria could meet resistance from Russia and China, which hold vetoes on the UN Security Council.

Moscow and Beijing have already twice shielded Syria from UN sanctions over its yearlong, deadly crackdown on a popular uprising.

Clinton said she'd laid out the case for UN Security Council resolve earlier on Thursday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, whom she said "has recognised that we are not in a static situation but a deteriorating one".

At the Paris meeting of 16 top diplomats, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the coalition group believes Annan's plan is the "last chance" for Syria to avoid civil war.

Over the past 13 months, the Syrian government's crackdown is said to have killed more than 9 000 people.

- AP


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