Clinton backs Annan over Syria

2012-06-27 19:31
(Victor R Caivano, AP)

(Victor R Caivano, AP)

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Helsinki - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that the United States stood ready to support international envoy Kofi Annan's push to find a diplomatic solution to Syria's war, ahead of slated talks.

Speaking at the start of a European visit focused heavily on the Syrian bloodshed that has killed around 15 000 people, Clinton said she supported the former UN secretary general's efforts to "prepare for a democratic transition that leads to a post-Assad Syria.

"I've been in close consultation with special envoy Annan about the prospects for a meeting that would focus on a roadmap for political transition in Syria," Clinton said during a visit to Helsinki.

Annan on Wednesday confirmed talks between world powers would take place in Geneva on Saturday, but plans have been beset by differences between the United States and Russia on the need for political transition.

Washington, facing a domestic outcry over human rights atrocities committed by the Syrian army, has pressed for an immediate end to the violence and for President Bashar al-Assad - never an ally of the West - to step down.

Russia, which has ties to Syria's military and the ruling Ba'ath Party that stretch back to the Soviet era, has stressed the need for Syrians to decide their own future and has not ruled out Assad staying in power.

Clinton said she had spoken with Annan "three times in the last 24 hours".

He "has developed his own very concrete roadmap for political transition; he has been circulating it for comments and when I spoke to him yesterday (on Tuesday) I conveyed our support for the plan that he has put forward.

"We think it embodies the principles needed for any political transition in Syria that could lead to a peaceful, democratic and representative outcome reflecting the will of the Syrian people.

Top State Department officials have previously insisted Clinton would only attend the meeting if all parties agreed on the need for political transition in Syria.

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