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West vows to press Assad

By Yang Jingjie (Global Times)

08:27, February 07, 2012

The US and Britain vowed Monday to keep piling on the pressure for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, after China and Russia double-vetoed a draft UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution backing regime change in Syria.

Washington will apply sanctions and step up pressure on Assad's government to leave power, US President Barack Obama told NBC Monday.

"I think it is very important for us to try to resolve this without recourse to outside military intervention, and I think that's possible," Obama said.

The US Department of State said that it had suspended embassy operations in Damascus and withdrawn all embassy personnel, including ambassador Robert Ford, due to the worsening security situation.

Also Monday, Britain recalled its ambassador to Syria for consultation.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said London seeks to widen international coalition supporting the draft resolution and Britain would increase pressure on Syria through the EU.

"We have already agreed 11 rounds of EU sanctions and will hope to agree further measures by the (EU) Foreign Affairs Council on February 27," he said.

Earlier Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said, "There are alternative ways to apply pressure on the Syrian regime through the UN, for example through the General Assembly, and we are thinking about those options."

Ma Xiaolin, a Middle East expert and a standing director of China Foundation for International Studies, told the Global Times that the West is expected to use other measures to overthrow Assad.

"The West is likely to wield its strong diplomatic clout to put pressure on Russia and China while offering more military supplies to Syrian opposition and eventually cause so many deaths in the country that Moscow and Beijing could no longer stand by," Ma said.

Admitting that Syria could easily slide into a civil war, Ma said Assad may have to make compromises.

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