Hillary says deadly Afghan protests `must stop`

Last Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 23:32

Rabat: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
said on Sunday that deadly protests in Afghanistan over the
burning of Qurans by US soldiers "must stop".

"We deeply regret the incident that has led to this
protest, but we also believe that violence must stop and the
hard work for building a more peaceful and secure Afghanistan
must continue," she told a news conference during a visit to
the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Today, a protester was killed and seven US soldiers were
wounded in a grenade attack on their base in a sixth day of
anti-American protests, police said, bringing the death toll
to more than 30 since the Quran burning at the Bagram airbase
north of Kabul.

President Barack Obama`s apology for the Quran burning was not

"I find it somewhat troubling that our politics would
inflame such a dangerous situation in Afghanistan," Clinton
said of the complaints by Republican presidential candidates
and some experts about Obama`s apology.

"It was the right thing to do to have our president on
record as saying this was not intentional, we deeply regret
it," Clinton said.

Clinton also urged Syrian soldiers not to fire on
civilians as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 72
civilians were killed there yesterday alone.

"We are appealing to the members of the Syrian army to
put their country first," Clinton said, adding: "We continue
to believe that those around Assad are quite concerned about
the brutal attacks going on."

She said: "I want to reiterate my message to those
Syrians who still support Assad, especially members of the
Syrian military and business community: the longer you support
the regime campaign of violence against your brothers and
sisters, the more it will stain your honour."

Those who renounce violence will become "heroes", she

Eleven months of repression by the security forces of
President Bashar al-Assad have left more than 7,600 people
dead, rights groups say.

Clinton told CNN that diplomatic efforts were under way
to erode Assad`s support.

"We have a lot of contacts, as do other countries ... and
our message is the same to all of them: `You cannot continue
to support this illegitimate regime because it is going to
fall,`" she said.

Clinton held talks today with her Moroccan counterpart
Saad Eddine Othmani on the third and final leg of a Maghreb
tour aimed at nurturing democracy in the region.

The talks are the first between Clinton and a member of
the government of Abdelilah Benkirane, a moderate Islamist who
took office in January.


First Published: Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 23:32

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