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 on Friday.
"If the Assad regime refuses to allow this life-saving aid to reach civilians, it will have even more blood on its hands," Clinton said in remarks prepared for delivery at a meeting of the "Friends of Syria" group 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.
In remarks aimed at Assad, she said: "You will pay a heavy cost for ignoring the will of the international community and violating the human rights of your people."
Clinton joined foreign ministers from more than 50 countries in Tunis for the group's first meeting. They convened against the backdrop of a surge in government attacks on the city of Homs and mounting world outrage over violence that has claimed thousands of lives during the uprising.
"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," Clinton said.
"For nations that have already imposed sanctions, we must vigorously enforce them."
She also made a show of Washington's backing for the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main group representing Syria's opposition, by meeting three of their leaders on the sidelines of the conference.
Speaking after meeting Clinton, the SNC's Basma Kodmani told a U.S. pool reporter the encounter went well.
"Excellent. Very positive. Secretary Clinton was asking what we felt we needed from this conference and what the United States could do to help the Syrian National Council."
Asked if she was disappointed the conference stopped well short of granting full recognition to the SNC, she said: "Not at all. We are completely reassured that the council is a central player and the partner in organizing the future, planning for it."
Clinton met representatives of the SNC for the first time in Geneva late last year.
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