U.S. seeks "forceful" Arab League message on Syria

WASHINGTON Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:58am IST

Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia, former director general of the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, speaks on Saudi issues in Washington November 15, 2011. REUTERS/Molly Riley

Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia, former director general of the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, speaks on Saudi issues in Washington November 15, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Molly Riley

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States hopes the Arab League will use its next meeting on Wednesday to send a forceful message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to halt violence against his own people, the State Department said.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington was pleased with the Arab League's move on Saturday to suspend Syria, and hoped for more follow-up when Arab foreign ministers meet in Morocco on Wednesday.

"We look for the Arab League tomorrow to again send a forceful message to Assad that he needs to allow for a democratic transition to take place and end the violence against his people," Toner told a news briefing on Tuesday.

Toner cited forceful statements from Syria's neighbor Turkey and the European Union's move to target 18 people in a new round of Syria sanctions as evidence that an international consensus was forming about how to deal with Syria's crisis.

"The drumbeat of international pressure is increasing on Assad," Toner said.

The United States has repeatedly called on Assad to step down, but has said it is working with Arab and other allies to develop a coordinated response to a crisis that the United Nations says has killed more than 3,500 people since anti-government protests began in March.

Syria's government blames armed gangs sponsored from abroad for killing at least 1,100 troops and police.

The Arab League has asked Syria's opposition groups to draw up their plans for a transition of power as a prelude to a wider gathering on Syria's future planned by the Cairo-based body.

Toner said that the United States was in touch with a number of Syrian opposition groups including the Syrian National Council, and would remain in contact with them as they consider their next steps.

"We certainly do consider the Syrian opposition to be developing, to be becoming more cohesive as we move forward," Toner said.

Toner said the U.S. Embassy in Damascus had confirmed that 42 civilians were killed by Syrian security forces on Monday, and acknowledged that other reports have put the number of deaths far higher.

"Since Syria said it was going to comply with the Arab League's demands, it's actually increased violence against these protesters," Toner said.

(Editing by Eric Beech)

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

Oil price will average less in 2015 than during financial crisis - Reuters Poll.  Full Article 

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

New Italy President

New Italy President

Italy elects senior judge Sergio Mattarella as president.  Full Article 

Pharma Deal

Pharma Deal

Sun Pharmaceutical wins U.S. approval to buy Ranbaxy  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

AirAsia Jet Crash

AirAsia Jet Crash

AirAsia captain left seat before jet lost control - sources  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

Review: Hawaizaada

Review: Hawaizaada

Movie Review: Hawaizaada  Full Article | Related Story 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage