G8 draft threatens Syria with 'further action'
A draft statement from G8 leaders seen by AFP on Friday warned that the international community will take "further measures" if Syria does not stop using force against protesters.
An earlier draft had specifically threatened to turn to the United Nations Security Council to impose binding sanctions, but this was later softened under pressure from Syria's traditional ally Russia, officials said.
"We are appalled by the deaths of many peaceful protesters as a result of the sweeping use of violence in Syria as well as by repeated and serious violations of human rights," the draft said, as the G8 summit continued.
"We call on the Syrian leadership to immediately stop using force and intimidation against the Syrian people and to respond to their legitimate demands for freedom of expression and universal rights and aspirations.
"We also call for the release of all political prisoners in Syria. Only the path of dialogue and fundamental reforms will lead to democracy, and thus to long-term security and prosperity in Syria," it said.
"Should the Syrian authorities not heed this call, we will consider further measures. We are convinced that only by implementing meaningful reforms will a democratic Syria be able to play a positive role in the region."
© 2011 AFP