'Friends of Syria' push for tougher sanctions
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The "Friends of Syria" group met in Paris on Friday and called for tougher international sanctions on the Assad regime. High-ranking diplomats from France, Britain and the US also agreed to increase aid to Syria's opposition.
The so-called "Friends of Syria" group met in the French capital on Friday, where they urged the international community to adopt tougher sanctions against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in an effort to force the Syrian leader to step down.
High-level diplomats from France, Britain, the United States and Turkey, among other countries, expressed their support for the Syrian people, and met with dozens of representatives of Syria’s opposition as well as members of civil society.
Members at the conference agreed to increase aid to Syria’s opposition, especially by bankrolling new communications technology.
After meetings in Tunis in February and Istanbul in April, the "Friends of Syria" gathered at the Ministerial Conference Centre in southwest Paris. Upcoming conferences in Morocco and Italy were also agreed upon.
“This meeting has seen record participation, with more people than the previous two meetings. It shows the mounting pressure against the bloody Assad clan in Syria,” Bernard Valero, the spokesman for the French foreign ministry, told FRANCE 24.
Looking for UN resolution
In a keynote speech, French President François Hollande did not hold back in condemning the Syrian regime, and called for a speedy resolution to be adopted by the UN Security Council in order to tackle the crisis.
Hollande said Assad’s 15-month-long crackdown on opponents was “unbearable for humanity’s conscience.”
The French president invoked the “inevitable fall” of Assad and his “despicable” regime, and warned UN Security Council members Russia and China -- who were not taking part to the meeting -- about backing Syria’s government.
“You can help avoid the chaos… chaos that threatens [your] interests,” Hollande said to Moscow and Beijing.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also hammered away at Russia and China during the gathering.
"It is not enough to come to a 'Friends of Syria' meeting. The only way to get results is if every country represented here makes it clear to Russia and China that there is a price to pay," Clinton said.
She also called on the adoption of a resolution under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter outlining the possibility of international military intervention.