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Obama Calls for SYRIAN PRESIDENT to Step Down – NYTimes.com

August 18, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a statement on Thursday about sanctions against Syria.

Obama Calls for Syrian President to Step Down

By MARK LANDLER and NADA BAKRI

Published: August 18, 2011

WASHINGTON — President Obama made the United States government’s first explicit call on Thursday for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to leave office, as he issued a new executive order freezing all Syrian assets within American jurisdiction and barring American citizens from any business dealings with the government in Damascus.

In a statement that was quickly followed by similarly strong calls from European nations, Mr. Obama said, “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

The statements signaled what may be an end to days of intense negotiations involving Syrian, Turkish, American and other officials. The foreign minister of Turkey, which has had close relations with Syria and has slowly escalated its efforts to stop the bloodshed, spent six hours last week with Mr. Assad, appealing to him to end the crackdown, one of the bloodiest in the Arab uprising. But Mr. Assad rebuffed that appeal, saying that he would continue his fight against protesters he has dismissed as militant Islamists and terrorists.

Adding to the sudden increase of pressure on Mr. Assad, a United Nations human rights panel recommended that Syria be referred to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. The panel said that government forces may have committed crimes against humanity by carrying out summary executions, including “353 named victims”; torturing prisoners and harming children; and impersonating civilians “to cause unrest and portray an inaccurate picture of events.” The Security Council was expected to discuss the recommendation later in the day.

via Obama Calls for Syrian President to Step Down – NYTimes.com.

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