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Pull back troops from populated areas: Clinton to Assad

March 28, 2012 10:33 IST

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to demonstrate his willingness to peace by pulling back troops from populated areas and accept a United Nations-brokered peace plan.

"Given Assad's history of over-promising and under-delivering, that commitment must now be matched by immediate actions. We will judge Assad's sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not by what he says," Clinton told reporters in joint press availability with Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.

"If he is ready to bring this dark chapter in Syria's history to a close, he can prove it by immediately ordering regime forces to stop firing and begin withdrawing from populated areas," she said.

Clinton was responding to questions on joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan that calls for a UN-monitored ceasefire, access for humanitarian aid workers and an inclusive, Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, multi-party political system.

"He (Assad) can also allow international aid workers unfettered access to those in need, and he can release political prisoners, permit peaceful political activity, allow the international news media unobstructed access, and begin a legitimate political process that leads to a democratic transition," Clinton said.

"As the regime takes steps, which we have yet to see, but assuming it does so, then Kofi Annan has pledged to work with the opposition to take steps of its own so that the  bloodshed ends, that there won't be violence coming from opposition forces, that humanitarian aid will be permitted to come into areas where the opposition has been holding, that the true political dialogue will begin, and that all Syrians will be welcomed to participate in an inclusive process," she said.

"Now that's a lot to look forward to seeing implemented, but given the response that we have had, we are going to be working very urgently between now and Istanbul to  translate into concrete steps what we expect to see," she said.

She also asked Syrian opposition to come forward with a unified position and a vision for the country.

"They must be able to clearly demonstrate a commitment to including all Syrians and protecting the rights of all Syrians," she said, adding that the US would be pushing them very hard to present a vision at Istanbul conference.
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