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U.S. "encouraged, heartened" by Arab response to violence in Syria: spokesman

(Xinhua)

09:18, August 09, 2011

The United States was "very much encouraged, heartened" by the strong statements made by Arab bodies denouncing violence in Syria, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Monday.

"I would say we're very much encouraged, heartened by the strong statements that we've seen over the weekend by the Arab League, as well as by the Gulf Cooperation Council," Toner told reporters at a regular news briefing.

He noted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke last week about increasing international pressure and raising awareness of the situation in Syria, both by speaking more broadly internationally and regarding Syria's neighbors and other countries in the region. "And I believe we're starting to see that, " he said.

The U.S. government is still mulling over further steps against Syria, alleging that the Arab nation is intensifying its crackdown on anti-government protests, which broke out in March.

Syrian authorities blamed the violence on armed thugs and ultraconservative Muslims who want to establish Islamic emirates nationwide, vowing there would be no letup in its crackdown on these gunmen so as to restore stability and security to the country.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, on Monday recalled their ambassadors from Damascus.

Toner said that U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford will remain in Damascus, as the administration continues to believe that he is playing "an important role" on the ground, "bearing witness to what's going on in Syria."

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