NATO chief calls for stronger pressure on Syria

Updated: 2012-10-10 09:45


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BRUSSELS - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday urged the international community, especially the United Nations Security Council, to put "much stronger" pressure on the Syrian government to bring about a political solution.

"It is for the United Nations Security Council to send a very strong, united message to the Syrian leadership: stop violence, engage in political process," Rasmussen said following a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

The NATO chief said he deeply regretted that the Security Council failed to reach "a legally-binding resolution that could send such a strong message".

"I do believe that this failure ... has sent a wrong and very unfortunate signal to the Syrian leadership. To facilitate a political solution, the international community should put much stronger pressure," he said.

Though Rasmussen claimed NATO defense ministers only talked about military capabilities, the so-called "Smart Defense" initiative, instead of the Syrian crisis, he was still bombarded at the news conference by questions on Syria.

NATO has expressed support for Turkey after mortar bombs fired from Syria killed five Turkish civilians last week, which has triggered reprisal attacks from Turkey.

Rasmussen repeated that the military has all necessary plans in place to defend Turkey if necessary, but urged all parties to show restraints and avoid escalation of the ongoing conflicts between Turkey and neighboring Syria.

"Turkey has a right to defend itself within the international law ... and obviously, Turkey can rely on NATO solidarity."