Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
UNITED NATIONS - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem on Monday appealed to the 193 UN member states to halt the "foreign intervention" that he said was behind six months of anti-government demonstrations that have not abated.
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"We deeply regret the surge in the activities of armed groups in Syria, which have not waned and instead continued to spiral," Moualem told the UN General Assembly during its annual session in New York.
"The presence of these groups ... is the manifestation of foreign intervention," he said.
Moualem addressed the world body after four Syrian soldiers were shot dead on Monday as they tried to escape a military camp and troops sealed off towns in a continuing crackdown on opponents of President Bashar Assad, activists said.
"I assure you that our people are determined to reject all forms of foreign intervention in their internal affairs," he said.
"From this rostrum, I call on states which have partaken in the unjust campaign against Syria to reconsider their positions," Moualem said. "To them I say our people will foil your schemes."
He also criticized the sanctions that the United States, European Union and others had imposed on Damascus. Moualem said Assad's promised democratic reforms have had "to take a back seat to other priorities."
Faced with expanding street protests demanding an end to 41 years of Assad family rule, the president has sent troops and tanks into cities and towns across the country over the last six months.China 'greatly concerned' about Syria
The United States and its European allies have attempted to persuade the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Syria for the crackdown against protesters, but Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa -- the powerful "BRICS" bloc of emerging nations -- have resisted the push to punish Damascus.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said his country, one of the temporary council members, would "continue to press for a Security Council resolution" on Syria.
"If the repression continues, we Europeans will further tighten the sanctions against the (Syrian) regime," he said.
A senior US State Department official said Syria came up during
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meeting with Chinese Foreign
Minister Yang Jiechi in New York on Monday.
"I think it's fair to say that Foreign Minister Yang understood and
supported the notion of the Security Council taking further action and
they agreed to have our ambassadors work on this in the coming days,"
the official said.
The official added that the Chinese had not "signed off on sanctions"
but had emphasized the importance of the role of the UN Security Council
on the issue.
Yang touched on Syria during his speech to the General Assembly on Monday.
"China is also greatly concerned about the developments in Syria," he
said. "We hope that the parties in Syria will exercise restraint, avoid
any form of violence or more bloodshed, and act quickly to ease
He added that a Syrian-led "inclusive political process aimed at
promoting reform and advanced through dialogue and consultation is the
right way to resolve the current crisis."