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France joins Turkey in urging more global pressure on Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — France has joined Turkey in calling for greater international efforts to exert pressure on Syria to stop its bloody crackdown on protesters, as at least 17 more people were reported killed Friday.

At the same time, Syria made its first response to a proposal by the Arab League to send a delegation of more than 500 military and civilian observers to the country, but critics said it appeared to be a stalling tactic.

The Arab League chief, Nabil Elaraby, said he received a letter from Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, asking him to amend the proposed plan.

On Nov. 2, Syria said it had agreed to an Arab League-brokered plan under which it would halt all violence and withdraw armed forces from civilian areas, but the bloodshed continued, prompting the league to vote last weekend to suspend Syria. The proposal to send observers effectively delayed the suspension, and the current back and forth appears to push it back further.

Meanwhile, France's foreign minister, Alain Juppe, on a visit to Ankara, Turkey, on Friday, called the situation in Syria "no longer sustainable."

Juppe also called on the Syrian opposition "to avoid recourse to an armed insurrection," saying, "A civil war would, of course, be a true catastrophe." Asked whether France would support military action by Turkey, Juppe answered that any military action, no matter by whom, would have to be approved by the United Nations.

France joins Turkey in urging more global pressure on Syria 11/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 18, 2011 11:40pm]
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