Pentagon chief hails Russia's UN move on Syria
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Friday welcomed a Russian move proposing a UN resolution on Syria and praised Turkey's "leadership" in putting pressure on the Damascus regime.
"I think it was an important step for Russia to indicate that they were willing to work with an effort in the United Nations to bring greater pressure on Syria," Panetta told a news conference, adding: "There's a lot to be worked through."
Russia surprised Western powers on Thursday by putting forward a UN Security Council resolution, condemning the violence by President Bashar al-Assad's government as well as opposition groups.
The resolution, which comes amid mounting international denunciation of the regime's deadly crackdown on protestors, proposes no sanctions.
Europe and the United States have welcomed the Russian initiative but said the proposed text was not tough enough.
"I think it's clear from the steps that Russia took that more and more the international community is coming together as one to say to Syria and to the Assad regime that we can no longer tolerate the killings... the abuse of human rights that are going on in Syria," Panetta said.
He also praised Turkey's stance against Syria.
"Turkey has exercised great leadership in making clear what steps should be taken. We'll continue to work with Turkey and the international community to try to get Assad to do the right thing," Panetta said.
Turkey, a one-time ally of Syria, has joined the Arab League in putting pressure the Damascus regime, whose crackdown on dissidents has claimed more than 5,000 lives asince mid-March, according to UN figures.
During official talks with his Turkish counterpart Ismet Yilmaz and President Abdullah Gul, Panetta said they agreed on the need to work together to put more pressure on Syria.
© 2011 AFP