US, Germany, France mull new measures on Syria

WASHINGTON- US President Barack Obama and the leaders of Germany and France Friday pledged to consider new steps to punish Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his government over "indiscriminate" attacks on civilians.
Obama spoke separately to France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as Western nations cranked up pressure on Assad, on a day when another 14 people were killed in Ramadan protests in Syria.

US, Germany, France mull new measures on Syria
"The leaders condemned the Assad regime's continued use of indiscriminate violence against the Syrian people," a White House statement said.
"They welcomed the August 3 presidential statement by the UN Security Council condemning Syria's actions, but also agreed to consider additional steps to pressure the Assad regime and support the Syrian people."
The telephone consultations come as Washington appears to be moving towards a direct call for Assad to leave, after saying this week his presence was now fomenting instability and leading the Middle East down a dangerous path.
The Obama administration had also said in recent days that it will press its allies in Europe and the Arab world, which are seen as having more leverage over Assad than Washington, to do more to increase pressure.
Earlier, activists said that Syrian security forces shot dead at least 14 people as thousands of people rallied in the streets against Assad on the first Friday of Ramadan to support the protest hub of Hama.
The Syrian government has sought to crush the democracy movement with brutal force, killing more than 1,649 civilians and arresting thousands of dissenters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Group.
Obama has been under rising pressure from both Syrian dissidents and Congress to add several layers of sanctions against the Assad government which have already been unveiled.
On Friday, 221 members of the House of Representatives, from both sides of the political aisle, wrote to ask him to toughen the US line on Syria, despite the fact that Washington has few economic ties to the country.
"The threat posed by the Assad regime to the US, to our allies, and, most of all, to the Syrian people is stark and growing," the lawmakers wrote.
"Assad and his circle have no legitimacy to rule. The US and all responsible nations must impose the strongest possible sanctions on the murderous Syrian regime."
Washington has already imposed a raft of measures against Assad, his family and associates of the regime, but the lawmakers called on him to also ban all US businesses from operating in Syria.
They also requested that Obama halts any Syrian property transfers under US jurisdiction and to sanction any foreign firm that transferred goods or technology that could help Damascus develop nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, or ballistic or cruise missiles.

Saturday, August 6th 2011

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