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Friends of Syria – Paris Conference – Strong appeal to President Assad to stand down

Meeting in Paris today, the Conference of the Friends of Syria launched a strong appeal to President Bashar al-Assad to stand down, as confirmed in the final statement signed by the 107 countries participating.

Yes to transitional government

The request during the conference by the Action Group, after meeting in Geneva, for the establishment of a transitional governmental body with full executive powers, was received “favourably”. The participants “agreed and clearly affirmed that those whose presence would compromise the transition’s credibility should be distanced. In this respect, they stressed that Bashar al-Assad should leave power”. The UN and Arab League Special Envoy was “encouraged” to work toward “implementing this immediate transition, urging all parties to support these efforts”.

The statement cites the agreement to “massively increase” aid to the rebels, especially in the form of communications equipment. The UN Security Council was also urged to take tougher action with a new resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN charter.

A regime about to topple

“We have got to close the gap between words and results”, said Italian Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Marta Dassù, who pointed out at the end of the meeting that the possibility of the regime’s eventual collapse was “a realistic scenario”. The task at hand today is to “totally isolate the regime”, Dassù added, insisting on the need to convince Russia and China – which did not participate in the meeting – to withdraw their support from Damascus. Today’s “is a collective effort at persuasion”, Dassù explained, stressing that “the number of countries participating in the conference of Friends of Syria has grown enormously”.

Italy willing to host upcoming conferences

Italy also confirmed its willingness to host Friends of Syria conference after the one already scheduled for Morocco. The Under-Secretary then recalled that Italy was “doing a lot on the medical front to help the Syrian people, who have been brutally battered by a regime that makes no sense”.