Clinton reaffirms Washington wants Assad to go

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed the apparent cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition forces, but said a pause in hostilities is only a first step, and that Syrian President Bashar must withdraw troops from cities and accept a political transition.

“If it holds, a cease-fire is an important step, but it represents just one element of the special envoy’s plan,” Clinton told reporters at the State Department.

The Kofi Annan plan does not specifically call for Assad to leave power, but Clinton said that remained the Obama administration’s position.

Her comments came after a meeting on Thursday in Washington of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrialised democracies.

The world’s leading industrialised democracies on Thursday welcomed an apparent cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition forces but warned that the pause in hostilities is only a first step.

Clinton wants the pressure kept up on the Syrian government to comply with all elements of Annan’s plan to end more than a year of deadly violence.

She said Assad can’t “pick and choose” which parts of the agreement he wants to accept.

“The Annan plan is not a menu of options, it is a set of obligations,” she said.

“The burden of fully and visibly meeting all of these obligations continues to rest with the regime. They cannot pick and choose.

“For it to be meaningful, this apparent halt in violence must lead to a credible political process and a peaceful, inclusive democratic transition.”  She added that the US supports sending a UN mission to Syria to monitor compliance.

“We remain firmly resolved that the regime’s war against its own people must end for good and political transition must begin,” she said. “Assad will have to go and the Syrian people must be given the chance to chart their own future.”

Clinton said she had separate talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the situation in Syria but did not discuss details of their conversation.

The meetings that Clinton hosted on Wednesday and Thursday were held to prepare a Nato summit in Chicago and a G-8 meeting at Camp David next month.

Source: The Gulf Today

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