(TUNIS, Tunisia) — During a bilateral “Friends of Syria” meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Tunisia, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal said arming the Syrian opposition was “an excellent idea.”
Al Faisal reasoned that humanitarian aid alone will do nothing to stop “the killing machine… Because they have to protect themselves,” he said.
Clinton used strong language without going that far, while continuing the U.S. position that pressure on Assad will bring him to a stop.
“The Assad regime’s actions … are a grave violation of universal human rights … the violence must end and a democratic transition begin.” Clinton insisted that “concrete steps” have been taken to pressure Assad, increase his isolation, help the humanitarian relief and begin the democratic transition.
“The people who bear the responsibility for this humanitarian catastrophe are the Assad regime and its security forces,” Clinton said, adding that they have “ignored every warning, broken every promise.”
Secretary Clinton also said that any transition that takes place in Syria must include the departure of President Assad.
“I am convinced that Assad’s days are numbered. I just regret deeply that there will be more killing before he goes,” she said.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al Thani suggested security be provided for the Syrians.
“There is a need to create an Arab force and open humanitarian corridors to provide security to the Syrian people,” he said.
Meanwhile in Homs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent international humanitarian organizations started an evacuation Friday of women and children in the city. Assad’s security forces have bombarded Homs for three straight weeks, leading to the death of hundreds of civilians in the city.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chandrika Narayan and Steve Almasy, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN
Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, CNN