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Clinton says time to plan for Syria's political transition

August 07, 2012


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) speaks next to South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane during the US-South Africa Strategic Dialogue in Pretoria, August 7, 2012. Clinton said on Tuesday that the crisis in Syria must not be allowed to descend into sectarian warfare and she warned against “proxies or terrorist fighters” being sent in to join the conflict. -Reuters Photo

PRETORIA: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that the world needs to decide how to end the conflict in Syria and start planning for a political transition in Damascus.

“We must figure out how to hasten the day when bloodshed ends and the political transition begins,” she said after talks with her South African counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

“We have to be sure that we are working with the international community to bring that day about and to be very clear of (our) expectations of both the government and the opposition about ending the violence and beginning the political transition,” she said.

“We can begin talking about and planning more what happens next, the day after the regime does fall,” she said. “I know it is going to happen.””It is a very difficult time for the people of Syria who are caught in the middle of this terrible violence,” she said.

“We have got to address the desperate humanitarian needs of those suffering inside of Syria and those who have fled,” she added.

“We have to make sure that the state institutions stay intact,” she said.

“Those who are attempting to exploit the misery of the Syrian people either by sending in proxies or sending in terrorist fighters must recognize that will be not tolerated, first and foremost by the Syrian people.”

South Africa, which holds a rotating seat on the UN Security Council, has been reluctant to support the US and European stance on Syria.

It abstained last month from a vote on a resolution that called for sanctions against Damascus, saying the rebels also needed to be pushed toward peace.

Clinton is currently on an African tour, but afterwards is headed to Istanbul for talks on the Syrian crisis.