Clinton: Group of Eight Nations Discuss Syria, Iran, North Korea
By MacKenzie C. Babb
IIP Staff Writer
April 12, 2012
A cease-fire in Syria must lead to a credible and peaceful political transition in the country, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, noting that Bashar al-Assad’s security forces still haven’t fulfilled important obligations, including withdrawing from Syrian population centers.
Speaking in Washington April 12, Clinton welcomed U.N.–Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan’s report that the violence in Syria has abated for the moment.
“If it holds, a cease-fire is an important step, but it represents just one element of the special envoy’s plan,” she said, and Annan has reported that the Assad regime “has so far failed to comply with key obligations.”
Annan’s plan “is not a menu of options; it is a set of obligations,” she said, and the Assad regime “cannot pick and choose” which obligations it will fulfill.
“The regime’s troops and tanks have not pulled back from population centers, and it remains to be seen if the regime will keep its pledge to permit peaceful demonstrations, open access for humanitarian aid and journalists, and begin a political transition,” Clinton said.
“For it to be meaningful, this apparent halt in violence must lead to a credible political process and a peaceful, inclusive, democratic transition,” she said, adding that the United States believes “Assad will have to go, and the Syrian people must be given the chance to chart their own future.”
Clinton said the Obama administration supports the immediate dispatch of an advance team for a U.N. monitoring mission in Syria, and said international personnel will need “complete freedom of movement, unimpeded communications and access throughout the country and to all Syrians, as well as firm security guarantees from all parties.”
Diplomats at the United Nations are working on a Security Council resolution that will call on Assad to “fully comply with all points in the Annan plan,” as well as send an advance team to Syria “to prepare the way for a full, robust international monitoring mission,” she said.
She said in her talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier April 12, the Russian minister agreed that the cease-fire was only a “fragile first step,” and said the United States, Russia and other countries are “working together to try to enforce, in practical terms, the commitments that the Assad regime claims to have made.”
“We’re at a point … where we want to test what has been agreed upon, but with our eyes wide open going forward,” Clinton said.
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said the Assad regime has “clearly fallen short” of the obligations it made under the Annan plan, and the Obama administration takes “a very dim view” of the regime’s promises. “We focus on actions,” he said.
It is important not only for Syrian forces to observe a cease-fire but also to withdraw personnel, weaponry and equipment from population centers, Carney said, likening their presence among civilians to having “a gun to someone’s head” and allowing the regime’s forces to remain in a position from where they can begin their assaults again.
“That is a long way from fulfillment of the obligations that the Assad regime committed itself to,” he said.
“A tentative or less than complete cease-fire is better than no cease-fire at all, but we could not call the current situation on the ground a full cease-fire,” Carney said.