Friday, August 19, 2011

Syria needs time to enact reform: Russia

Source: Press TV

Russia has opposed US-led calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, saying he should be given more time to implement reforms.

Moscow's stance came one day after US President Barack Obama introduced harsh new sanctions against Damascus and urged Assad to quit over the months-long unrest in the country.

The While House claims that Assad's “calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering his own people.”

Britain, France, Germany and the EU have also called for Assad to "step aside".

"We do not support such calls and consider that right now, the government of President Assad needs time to implement all reform processes that have been announced," a source in the Russian foreign ministry told Interfax news agency.

Some other countries, including Turkey, however, have rejected foreign interference in Syria's affairs, saying it is the Syrian people who must decide about their country.

Obama on Thursday signed an executive order banning new US investment in Syria and any dealings in the country's petroleum sector.

The executive order also denies Damascus access to the American financial system, freezes all Syrian government assets subject to US jurisdiction and prohibits any US citizen from engaging in transactions with Syria.

European leaders have announced that they are preparing to expand their sanctions against Syria and that they would likely push for more at the Security Council.

Syria's UN envoy Bashar Ja'afari accused Washington of "waging a humanitarian and diplomatic war" against Syria, together with some other UN Security Council members.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March with demonstrations held both against and in support of President Assad's government.

Hundreds of people have been killed when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes between alleged protesters and state security forces as well as organized attacks by armed gangs against Syrian police forces.

While the opposition accuses security forces of being behind the killings, the government blames outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups for the deadly violence, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.

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