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INTERNATIONAL > Clinton says Russia, China must 'pay price' for aiding Assad

PARIS/BEIRUT - Reuters

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The defection of a Syrian general who is a personal friend of President Bashar al-Assad gave a huge boost to anti-government rebels as Western and Arab states met them in Paris on Friday to help prise Assad from power.
 
In some of the strongest U.S. remarks yet on a crisis that has divided the United Nations Security Council along Cold War lines, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Paris conference that Russia and China must "pay a price" for blocking U.N. sanctions that might press Assad into stepping down.
 
As she spoke, Manaf Tlas, a brigade commander in the Republican Guard who attended military college with Assad and fled to Turkey this week, was on his way to Paris, where his father, Assad's father's defence minister, has also taken up residence, a close family friend told Reuters. 
 
There was no immediate sign that Tlas would throw in his lot with the rebels and an opposition source said he had no plans to attend Friday's meeting.
 
But his defection is the clearest signal yet that some in Assad's inner circle think his days in power are numbered, as an uprising that began in March 2011 with a groundswell of peaceful protest turns into a civil war with strong sectarian overtones. 
 
While the lightly armed rebels are no match for Syria's large and well-equipped army, their hope lies in eroding loyalty and conviction within Assad's establishment to the point where it loses its hold on power.
 
Syrian armour pushed into the rebel-held northern town of Khan Sheikhoun on Thursday, activists said, adding 11 victims to a death toll dissidents and Western leaders put at over 15,000.
 
French President Francois Hollande urged stiffer sanctions against Assad and more support for the rebels at the start of a meeting of Western and Arab states who back the uprising.
 
"Bashar al-Assad must go," Hollande told a meeting of foreign ministers and senior diplomats from the "Friends of Syria" group. "It's in the interest of Syria, of its neighbours and everybody who wants peace in the region."
 
Clinton renewed Washington's call for a U.N. sanctions resolution, something that was twice blocked last year by the veto power held by Moscow and Beijing in the Security Council. 
 
And she called for states to penalise Russia and China:
 
"I will tell you very frankly, I don't think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all - nothing at all - for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime," Clinton said.
 
"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, because they are holding up progress - blockading it. That is no longer tolerable."
 
Completing the trio of Western veto-holding powers on the Council, Foreign Secretary William Hague for Britain told the conference that counties which failed to impose sanctions were allowing Assad's forces to go on killing.
 
The Paris meeting will, among other things, focus on firming up sanctions and closing loopholes such as continued Greek purchases of Syrian phosphates, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the newspaper Aujourd'hui en France.
 
Tlas, whose father Mustafa was defence minister under Assad's father for three decades, is a Sunni Muslim, from the majority community that has been the focus of the uprising against a ruling class rooted in Assad's minority Alawite sect. 
 

July/06/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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Selim Bisevac

7/6/2012 11:07:15 PM

I wish Mrs Clinton had the same compassion for the people of Gaza who are currently residing ironically in the largest concentration camp on Earth . Double standards make me sick !

ilker avni

7/6/2012 8:06:17 PM

I have allways belived the next world war will be a trade war,China has slapped high import duties on American imports,theAmericans will do the same on Chinese Imoports to counter the Chinese.Its time the West stopped investing in China,bring back our jobs from China.As China grows stronger while the West gets weaker,China will be a big threat later on down the line,why should China grow at the expense of west.Its time for high quoatas and higher rates of duty on all Chinese goods.

Murat

7/6/2012 6:19:23 PM

Did US ever pay a price for single-handedly blocking countless UN resolutions and UNSC actions concerning Israel?

Chas Spencer

7/6/2012 5:46:55 PM

Ms. Clinton must be getting her clues from someone in Ankara!

Deniz Can

7/6/2012 5:07:16 PM

Dealing with antidemocratic policy of Assad is one aspect.The role US have overtaken to deal with it is completely a different issue.US’ history is full of examples demonstrating that she is less interested in democracy und justice more interested in shaping the world politics, which can serve her neoliberal capitalist interests.Anyone asks for US to deliver justice and secure the conditions for a democraticy in Syria should read her history carefully in order not to take on the wrong side

john albay

7/6/2012 4:49:57 PM

If madame lier(clinto) said that then the USA is a fault and not russia and china. The USA has already caused so much hardship and death in the region with its lies and greed,now is the time for he to shut up and go,and leave the local people to solve it problems.We know assad is a butcher and a lier but so is madame lier(sorry clinto) and the the US goverment with its murder machine the CIA.

mara mcglothin

7/6/2012 4:43:02 PM

Oh yeah SAME STEEL Every bad thing that happens in this World was caused by the USA. The "sheep" will be fighting amongst themselves for many years to come and it is no fault of the USA. We are damned if we do and damned if we don't. A perfect example is the Syrian issue. There are many who are asking why we don't do something?

Diren Sesel

7/6/2012 4:08:33 PM

How about France aiding the deaths of Algerians.

Sam Steel

7/6/2012 3:22:48 PM

Isn't it hillarious how the US and UK continue to talk about solving the world "problems" while they practically have caused most of them. And expect the sheep of the world to clap to their dillusional democracy and human rights propaganda

Sam Steel

7/6/2012 3:13:10 PM

Funny how this guy is labeled as "personal friend of Assad" since he was stripped of his command and effectively under house arrest for a very long time, pretty much since the events started in Syria. His defection is defintely of no military consequence and surely he stopped being a "personal friend of Assad" a long time ago!
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