Germany urges firmer UN line on Syria

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that Berlin wanted the United Nations to take a firmer line on Syria's attacks on civilians after nearly eight months of deadly violence.

Merkel told reporters after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that they agreed in "condemning the human rights violations occurring in Syria".

"We are also calling -- at least I said for Germany -- that we would like to see stronger condemnation by the United Nations," she said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria to "immediately" end attacks on civilians Saturday, a day after President Bashar al-Assad launched a fierce crackdown that killed over 50 people.

Arab foreign ministers were to meet later Wednesday at the Arab League's Cairo headquarters to step up pressure on Syria, as 16 more civilians were reportedly killed in the country.

The meeting is being held to hear Syria's response to an Arab roadmap calling for an immediate halt to the bloodletting, the removal of tanks from the streets and the start of a dialogue between the Damascus regime and its opponents.

The Arab proposal is aimed at ending a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters which the UN says has claimed more than 3,000 lives, mostly civilians.

Germany, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, has repeatedly joined Western allies in calling for a harder line against Damascus but they have been thwarted by permanent members Russia and China.

The two countries last month vetoed a council resolution which had raised the prospect of potential measures against Damascus including sanctions while South Africa, Brazil and India abstained in the vote.

© 2011 AFP

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