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France: Talks to Bring Practical Support to Syrian People

  • VOA News

French FM Laurent Fabius (June 2012 photo)

French FM Laurent Fabius (June 2012 photo)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says the Friends of Syria meeting in Paris will not be just abstract talks but are aimed at bringing practical support to the Syrian people.

Delegates from about 100 countries and 100 members of the opposition will be in the French capital on Friday.

Fabius tells Le Parisien newspaper that there is a clear need to move forward in Syria. He says the barbarism of President Bashar al-Assad risks civil war and spreading sectarian violence to neighboring countries.

Fabius says he is looking for delegates at the talks to expand sanctions against Syria, provide communications support to the opposition, and help with humanitarian efforts.

Russia and China, two of Syria's most powerful allies, are not participating in the Paris talks. Fabius says that as permanent U.N. Security Council members, they must worry about threats to peace. He said supporting President Assad leads only to a bloody mess.

The head of the United Nations monitoring mission in Syria, Major General Robert Mood, says violence there has reached "unprecedented" levels. He said there must a cease-fire before unarmed observer teams can resume their suspended mission.

Also Thursday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Baghdad has solid intelligence that al-Qaida militants are infiltrating Syria to carry out terrorist attacks.

President Assad contends that outside terrorists are responsible for much of Syria's violence. U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay has asked Syria to allow her teams to come into the country to independently investigate Mr. Assad's claims.

Several Western nations say an agreement reached last Saturday in Geneva calling for a transitional government in Syria excludes Mr. Assad. Russia and China say there is no such stipulation. They have used their veto power in the U.N. Security Council to block several rounds of proposed sanctions against Damascus.

Also Thursday, the WikiLeaks website said it has begun publishing material from 2.4 million emails stemming from Syrian government accounts, calling the documents "embarrassing to Syria, but also embarrassing to Syria's opponents." WikiLeaks spokeswoman Sarah Harrison said the emails were from Syrian political figures, government ministries and companies, dating from August 2006 to March 2012.

WikiLeaks said the emails, which it has called "The Syria Files," will shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy, and "also reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another."

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