U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Friday that he would use "every tool available" to stop the killings in Syria as delegates at the Friends of Syria Conference called for an immediate ceasefire to allow access to humanitarian aid in the Middle East country.
|Delegates and officials from over 60 countries take part in the "Friends of Syria" conference in Tunis, on February 24, 2012, where diplomats discuss the crisis in Syria, with a focus on aid and a political resolution of the violent conflict which has killed over 7000 people since the beginning of pro-democracy demonstrations a year ago. [AFP/Xinhua]|
After meeting with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the White House, Obama said he was encouraged by the " international unity" that was developing and would continue to keep the pressure up and "look for every tool available to prevent the slaughter of innocents in Syria."
"All of us who have been seeing the terrible pictures coming out of Syria and Homs recently recognize it is absolutely imperative for the international community to rally and send a clear message to President (Bashar) Assad that it is time for a transition," Obama told reporters.
"It is time for that regime to move on and it is time to stop the killing of Syrian citizens by their own government," he added.
Participants from 60 countries and regions gathered at the first Friends of Syria Conference in Tunisia's capital Tunis on Friday, calling for an immediate ceasefire in order to allow humanitarian aid into the country.
The group reached consensus on avoiding a militarization of the conflict and moving instead towards a political solution by recognizing the Syrian National Council (SNC) as the "legitimate representative" for the Syrian people.
The group also agreed on applying more sanctions on the Assad regime, reducing diplomatic ties and adding pressure on the Syrian government.
At the conference, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the group to take "concrete action" to "provide emergency humanitarian relief, ratchet up pressure on the regime, and prepare for a democratic transition."
She warned that the Assad regime would pay a "heavy cost" for " ignoring the will of the international community and violating the human rights of your people."
Clinton also announced that the United States was providing 10 million dollars to "quickly scale up humanitarian efforts, including support for refugees" in Syria.