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US Works to Intensify Diplomatic Pressure on Syria


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (r) is greeted by UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Tareq Al-Haidan, upon her arrival at the airport in Abu Dhabi, June 8, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (r) is greeted by UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Tareq Al-Haidan, upon her arrival at the airport in Abu Dhabi, June 8, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to discuss the escalating violence in Syria on the sidelines of a Libya Contact Group meeting in the United Arab Emirates Thursday.

State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner says that while the Libyan conflict will indeed be the primary focus of Thursday's meeting, Clinton will use this trip to cement international pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"I think we continue to be very alarmed by what we've seen in Syria," said Toner. "We continue to believe that [Mr.] Assad has shown little or no effort to reform, to meet and address the concerns that are raised by the Syrian people. Rather, he's just carried out a brutal crackdown on them."

Rights groups say more than 1,100 people have been killed since an anti-government uprising began in March.

Toner also told reporters at the State Department Wednesday that the United States is trying to convince other members of the United Nations Security Council to support a resolution that condemns Syria.

"We believe the such a resolution will bring added pressure on Assad's regime and advance the international community's efforts to end the brutal repression on the Syrian people," he said.

The revised draft resolution that is being circulated demands an immediate end to the violence and calls upon Syrian authorities to lift the siege of affected towns, restore medical supplies and communications, and allow immediate access for international human rights monitors and humanitarian workers.

Toner said that the United States has issues with Syria on another front, pointing to an International Atomic Energy Agency report that says Syria has not cooperated with nuclear inspectors.

Syria has failed to allow international monitors to inspect its facilities, and the United States has been pressing for the IAEA to report Syria to the U.N. Security Council.

State Department Spokesman Toner said the United States introduced a draft resolution to the IAEA in Vienna on Tuesday finding Syria non-compliant.

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