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U.S., British leaders discuss Syria

(Xinhua)

08:15, August 23, 2012

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday called British Prime Minister David Cameron over ways to up pressure on the Syrian government to end the protracted conflict in the country and help the opposition.

The White House said Obama expressed his concerns about the " increasingly dire" humanitarian situation in Syria and spoke of the need for more countries to offer humanitarian assistance.

"The two leaders exchanged views on ways the international community can assist those displaced by the conflict, apply pressure on the Assad regime, and support the opposition so that the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people can be realized," the White House said in a statement.

The approaches named are what Washington is currently undertaking as it has ruled out any military engagement to help end the 18-month conflict in the Middle East country.

Washington and its allies have made steady calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down to make way for a political transition in his country.

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil told reporters in Moscow a day earlier that al-Assad's resignation could only be discussed during a national dialogue, and that the Western attempt to force the president's ouster on the Syrian people would set a " very dangerous precedent."

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday accused the West of " openly instigating" the Syrian opposition to continue an armed struggle against the government but doing "nothing" to mediate a dialogue between the two sides.

In their phone talks, Obama and Cameron also discussed the sovereign debt crisis plaguing the eurozone, with Obama reaffirming his strong support for "decisive action" to address the economic crisis in Europe, the White House said.

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