France urges humanitarian corridor in Syria

UN's Ban says Assad regime has yet to send "a clear signal" on peace; China considering sending observers.

By REUTERS
April 19, 2012 10:37
2 minute read.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy 370 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/France Television)

 
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PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday that the solution for the crisis in Syria was the establishment of humanitarian corridors which would allow the opposition to President Bashar Assad to survive.

Ahead of a foreign ministers' meeting on Syria in Paris on Thursday, Sarkozy also said that he was convinced that China and Russia would drop their support for Damascus if the international community showed unity.

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"Bashar al-Assad is lying ... He wants to wipe Homs off the map just like (former Libyan President Muammar) Gaddafi wanted to destroy Benghazi," Sarkozy said.

"The solution is the establishment of humanitarian corridors so that an opposition can exist in Syria," he told Europe 1 radio.

While the truce worked out with international envoy Kofi Annan has held in some parts of Syria, in strong opposition areas such as Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deraa the army has kept up attacks on rebels.

China said on Thursday it was considering sending observers to monitor a week-old truce in Syria that has so far failed to put an end to a year of bloodshed.

China is "seriously studying" the idea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a daily news briefing.

UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon said in a letter to the Security Council obtained by Reuters on Wednesday that Syria has not fully withdrawn troops and heavy weapons from towns, failing to send a "clear signal" about its commitment to peace.



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Ban also said an expanded UN monitoring mission for Syria would be composed of "an initial deployment" of up to 300 unarmed observers who would supervise a fragile week-old ceasefire between forces loyal to Assad and opposition fighters seeking to oust him.

But Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem said 250 observers was a "reasonable number", adding they should be from countries such as China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa, which Damascus considers are more sympathetic than nations in the West or the Arab League.

Sarkozy, who trails his Socialist rival in polls ahead of the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday, said he was convinced that Assad's regime was condemned to fall.

"We called this (foreign ministers') meeting to gather all those who cannot stand that a dictator is killing his people," he said. "I am convinced that Assad's regime is condemned."

"The Chinese, like the Russians, do not like to be isolated and if we unite the major powers to say 'this is the direction we must go in with our arab allies' then the isolation of China and Russia on this dossier will not last," Sarkozy said.

"We refuse to remain powerless on this subject," he said.


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