Assad admits 'some mistakes,' Europe warns of UN steps
Syrian president admits to UN delegation 'mistakes' were made dealing with protesters; US repeats Syria would be better without Assad.
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
August 11, 2011 04:46
4 minute read.
Assad 311 reuters.
(photo credit: reuters)
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Wednesday that "some mistakes" were made by security forces when dealing with protesters.But veto powers Russia and China, backed by India,
South Africa and Brazil, have vehemently opposed the idea of slapping UN
sanctions on Damascus, which Western diplomats say would be the logical
next step for Syria.
Assad, along with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, met with deputy
foreign ministers from India, Brazil and South Africa in Damascus who called for an "end to violence", according to a statement released by
India's UN mission.
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He "acknowledged that some mistakes had been made by the security
forces in the initial stages of the unrest and that efforts were
underway to prevent their recurrence," the statement said.
Also on Wednesday,
European members of the Security Council threatened Syria that it could
face tougher UN action if it continued a bloody crackdown on protesters,
while Russia urged Damascus to implement promised reforms as soon as
diplomats said there were no signs that the five so-called "BRICS"
nations have altered their positions despite the five-month-old
crackdown by Syrian security forces on protesters in cities across the
Envoys of Britain, France, Germany and Portugal spoke to
reporters after a closed-door session of the 15-nation council convened
to assess Syria's compliance with last week's call by the Security
Council for "an immediate end to all violence."
They said Damascus has ignored that demand.
Wednesday's meeting, UN deputy political affairs chief Oscar
Fernandez-Taranco told council members that the violence had continued
and the humanitarian situation remained dire, diplomats who attended the
meeting told Reuters.
He said that nearly 2,000 civilians had been killed since March, 188 since July 31 -- and 87 on Aug. 8 alone.
Deputy UN Ambassador Philip Parham suggested to reporters that if Assad
continued to ignore calls from the Security Council for an end to the
clampdown, Damascus could face UN sanctions.
counterparts from France, Germany and Portugal echoed his warning that
further steps -- which is often diplomatic code for sanctions -- would
have to be discussed.
US Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters earlier that "it would be
much, much better for the people of Syria, and Syria would be better
off, without Assad." She was echoing comments made last week by White
House spokesman Jay Carney.
Rice told the Security Council that the United States "is working
together with its international partners to bring greater pressure to
bear on the Syrian regime through further coordinated diplomatic and
"We are also working with our partners to stem the flow of the weapons
and ammunition that Syrian security forces, under Assad's authority,
continue to use against peaceful protesters," she said, according to the
text of her remarks.
The Security Council will take up Syria again next week.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow had made clear to Damascus
that it wants Assad's promised reforms implemented as swiftly as
"What we are telling them is that they need to have serious reforms as
soon as possible, even though we do realize that it takes time,
especially in a dramatic situation like this, you simply cannot carry
out reforms overnight," he said.
Asked if he thought new US sanctions against Syria announced by Washington on Wednesday were helpful, Churkin said, "No."
Syrian envoy Bashar Ja'afari blasted the Europeans, accusing them of misleading reporters about the situation.
"They tried to manipulate the truth and to hide important facts and
elements related to the so-called situation in Syria," he said, adding
that the Europeans had deliberately ignored Assad's promises of reform
and national dialogue.
He also took aim at British Prime Minister David Cameron.
"To hear the prime minister of England describing the riots and the
rioters in England by using the term 'gangs', while they don't allow us
to use the same term for the armed groups and the terrorist groups in my
country," he said. "This is hypocrisy. This is arrogance."
Parham dismissed Ja'afari's comparison between the riots in Britain and the violence in Syria as "absurd."