Clinton Seeks End to Syrian Crackdown

Posted March 30th, 2012 at 11:40 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues her visit to Saudi Arabia Saturday with a meeting of regional Arab Gulf diplomats to discuss bringing an end to Syria's year-long crackdown on dissent.

The meeting is a prelude to the “Friends of the Syria” meeting Sunday in Istanbul. Clinton, as well as other diplomats from Arab and Western nations who support Syrian rebel groups, are scheduled to attend the meeting in Turkey. The U.S. remains opposed to arming Syria's rebels, which some Gulf states have proposed. Washington is instead working to unify the splintered opposition groups, and find ways to get humanitarian aid into Syria.

Fresh clashes between demonstrators and security forces broke out across Syria Friday. Rights groups say at least 11 people were killed.

U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has called on the Syrian government to immediately implement a cease-fire and stop its attacks on opposition groups.

Mr. Annan's spokesperson told reporters in Geneva Friday that the “deadline is now” for President Bashar al-Assad to implement the six-point peace plan drawn up by the former U.N. chief. He did not specify what action, if any, would be taken if Mr. Assad did not comply.

Arab leaders at a Baghdad summit Thursday endorsed the Syria peace plan and called for its immediate implementation.

Mr. Assad agreed to the peace plan Tuesday, but government forces have not shown restraint. The opposition says it suspects Mr. Assad has no intention of stopping his crackdown and has used his agreement to the peace plan as a stalling tactic.

The United Nations says violence linked to Syria's crackdown on the revolt has killed more than 9,000 people.