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Saudi minister leaves Tunis meeting over "inactivity"

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Saudi Arabia's delegation walked out of a "Friends of Syria" meeting in Tunis on Friday over what it saw as the gathering's "inactivity", Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said.   

It said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal left the meeting after saying in a speech that focusing on humanitarian aid to Syria was "not enough".

The administration of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will have even more blood on its hands if it does not agree to an international demand to allow in urgent humanitarian relief, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during the Friends of Syria group meeting held in Tunis.

"So too will those nations that continue to protect and arm the regime.

We call on those states that are supplying weapons to kill civilians to halt immediately," she said.    

"You will pay a heavy cost for ignoring the will of the international community and violating the human rights of your people," she said in remarks aimed at Assad.    

"We all need to look hard at what more we can do. It's time for everyone here to place travel bans on senior members of the regime - as the Arab League has done - freeze their assets, boycott Syrian oil, suspend new investments, and consider closing embassies and consulates."    

"For nations that have already imposed sanctions, we must vigorously enforce them," Clinton said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on the world to find ways to deny the Syrian government "the means with which to perpetrate atrocities against the Syrian people".    

"We must seek ways and means of enforcing an arms embargo upon the regime," Davutoglu told a meeting of the "Friends of Syria" group in the Tunisian capital on Friday.    

He said a significant number of countries taking part in the meeting, including Turkey, had already put into effect such measures, but a broader effort was needed.

Davutoglu told the open session: “We will not allow the Syrian regime to prevent assistance from reaching the Syrian people”.

Davutoglu said that the meeting aims at supporting the Syrians and stepping-up efforts to solve the crisis.

Moncef Marzouki, interim Tunisian President said he believed Russiahad an important role to play in the crisis. Marzouki said that it was important to maintain pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad but also to look beyond to a post-Assad Syria.  

"I think we have to be very cautious about the fact that, after this revolution, also Syria will probably face a humanitarian catastrophe," he said, comparing the situation to that of Tunisia last year.

"We have to think about the situation now and then probably after the departure of the dictator because I hope the end of the dictatorship is very close to us."   Marzouki looked ahead to the future of Syria and suggested the country faces two paths, similar to other Arab countries.

"We have the choice between the Yemeni scenario and the Libya scenario. But even the Libyan scenario seems to be, I would say, it will be more complex than the Libya scenario because we will have not only civil war but also regional war. This is why the only solution is the Yemeni scenario," he declared.

 In a speech at the "Friends of Syria" international meeting, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim addressed Syrian President Bashar Assad saying: “ Do you want to rule Syria over the dead bodies?”

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said that the Syrian regime took advantage of the Russian veto to continue its crackdown against civilians.  

An Arab force should be created to impose peace in Syria and allow in aid, the Qatari FM said. "There is a need to create an Arab force and open humanitarian corridors to provide security to the Syrian people," he added.

The Arab League chief Nabil el-Araby said in his remarks that the Security Council must immediately issue a resolution to end violence from the Syrian government.

"This conference should make practical moves and prioritise the issuance of an urgent Security Council resolution for a ceasefire," he told an opening session of the "Friends of Syria" meeting in Tunis.

“The Arab initiative is still the only appropriate solution to settle the Syrian crisis”, el-Araby said.

El-Araby regarded the Friends of Syria group meeting as a promising beginning to support the Arab initiative that confirms the commitment to the unity of Syria.


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