Fresh Syria resolution pointless, says Clinton
US Secretary of State Clinton acknowledges differences with Russia on Syria. AP photoU.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has acknowledged deep differences with Russia over how to handle the crisis in Syria, saying she would continue to try to convince Moscow to back increased international pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even if such a step is unlikely.
A day after Russia soundly rejected her call for U.N. sanctions to be imposed on Syria if al-Assad refuses to stop fighting and relinquish power Clinton said she was “realistic” in her approach. She said that if the Russians refused to go along, the United States and its friends would boost their support for the Syrian opposition.
“The United States disagrees with the approach on Syria,” she told reporters at a news conference at the end of the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit where she was filling in for President Barack Obama. “We have to bring more pressure to bear on the al-Assad regime to end the bloodshed and begin a political, democratic transition.”
In discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Clinton said she had underscored that the resolution “will only be effective if it includes consequences for non-compliance.”
“There is no point in passing a resolution with no teeth, because we have seen time and time again that al-Assad will ignore it and keep attacking his own people,” she said. But she allowed that convincing the Russians would be a tough, if not impossible sell. “We have to be realistic,” she said. “We haven’t seen eye-to-eye with Russia on Syria. That may continue, and if it does continue, then we will work with like-minded states to support the Syrian opposition to hasten the day when al-Assad falls and to help prepare Syria for a democratic future and help it get back on its feet again.”
After meeting with Clinton on Sept. 8, Lavrov said bluntly that Russia opposes penalties against the al-Assad government, in addition to new ones against Iran over its nuclear program, in part because they harm Russian commercial interests.
On the ground, Syrian warplanes bombed a residential district of Aleppo after rebels overran army barracks there, killing and wounding dozens of people and exacerbating a water shortage in Syria’s biggest city after a pipeline burst, activists said. Yesterday’s air raid destroyed a residential complex in the Hananu neighborhood, one of several in eastern Aleppo under rebel control, opposition activists said. The death toll was not immediately clear, but dozens of bodies and wounded people were being dug out from the rubble. Aerial bombardment had also wrecked a main water pipeline, causing serious shortages of water in Aleppo, activists added.
Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI yesterday called for dialogue and reconciliation in the Middle East as he prepared to visit war-torn Syria’s neighbor Lebanon on Sept. 15.
“My apostolic trip to Lebanon, and by extension to the whole of the Middle East, is taking place under the sign of peace,” the pope said after delivering the Angelus blessing from his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome. “The commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be the priority for all parties involved,” he said, calling for the international community to support such efforts.
“Even if it seems difficult to find solutions to the different problems, we cannot resign ourselves to violence and the exacerbation of tensions,” said the 85-year-old German pontiff.
Compiled from AP, Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.