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US Calls For Tougher UN Sanctions On Syria

The United States has called on the international community to do more to take tougher actions against Syria's Bashar-al- Assad regime.

"We need to start moving very vigorously in the Security Council for a Chapter 7 sanctions resolution, including travel, financial sanctions, an arms embargo, and pressure the regime to push for compliance with Special Envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said while addressing the Ad Hoc Ministerial Meeting on Syria held in Paris on Thursday.

"Now, I'm well aware that at this point such an effort is still likely to be vetoed, but we need to look for a way to keep pressing forward. I met at length with Sergey Lavrov earlier today in Brussels. He was, as usual, very intent upon laying responsibility on all sides, and in particular on the Opposition, but he also has recognized that we are not in a static situation but a deteriorating one," Clinton added.

"Next, we have to keep Assad off balance by leaving options on the table," she said.

Turkey already has discussed with NATO during the Ministerial Meeting over the last two days the burden of Syrian refugees on Turkey, the outrageous shelling across the border from Syria into Turkey a week ago, and that Turkey is considering formally invoking Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which triggers consultations in NATO whenever the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any of the parties is threatened.

Calling for increased support for Syria's Opposition, Clinton said "the United States is expanding its communications, logistics, and other support for the Syrian Opposition. And in cooperation with Turkey, Washington is considering establishing an assistance hub that will try to co-locate Syrian activists and help them coordinate the collection and distribution of assistance to Opposition groups inside Syria. High-level U.S. officials are continuing dialogue with the Syrian National Council."

Clinton stressed the need to continue to work and move toward a Security Council authorization to the U.N. monitoring mission so that it will have the authority to proceed when "the times are right."

The top U.S. diplomat expressed concern that increased violence could jeopardize deployment of the monitors and put their lives at risk. "So, it's important to get independent sources of observation and reporting on the ground, but we do not want to create a situation where those who are sent in to do this mission themselves are subjected to violence," she said.

A meeting of the Sanctions Working Group, consisting of about 50 countries, held in Paris earlier this week agreed to expand the coalition of countries imposing financial sanctions, expand the scope of the sanctions, and improve the effectiveness of the existing measures by reaching out to the private sector. The next meeting will be co-chaired by the United States and hosted in Washington, likely in mid May.

by RTT Staff Writer

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