US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pushing the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on Syria to put an end to its bitter conflict. The international community is divided over what action to take.
Clinton appealed to her colleagues at a meeting of the "Friends of Syria" of 14 Western and Arab countries in Paris to take tougher measures against Syria.
"We need to start moving very vigorously in the Security Council for a Chapter 7 sanctions resolution, including travel, financial sanctions, an arms embargo, and the pressure that that will give us on the regime to push for compliance with [international envoy] Kofi Annan's six-point plan," Clinton said Thursday night, referring to a resolution that would be militarily enforceable.
However, any plans to use force in Syria are likely to be opposed by China and Russia, which have veto power in the Security Council.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle argued for giving the Annan peace plan more time - within limits.
"The Kofi Annan plan is not an invitation to the regime of [President Bashar al-Assad] to play for time and simply continue with the violence," Westerwelle said, adding that pressure would need to be increased if the plan was prevented from being carried out.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe warned that failure of the Annan plan could lead to civil war.
Ban 'deeply' concerned
Annan's six-point plan requires Syria to pull out troops and heavy equipment from towns and cities, which it has not yet done, according to UN Secretary -General Ban Ki-moon.
"Despite the government's agreement to cease all violence, we still see deeply troubling evidence that it continues," Ban said on Thursday. "The past few days, in particular, have brought reports of renewed and escalating violence, including the shelling of civilian areas, grave abuses by government forces and attacks by armed groups."
Over 9,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad began in Syria.
ncy/pfd (AP, dpa, AFP)