US, France sent envoys to Syria to press Assad

The United States and France sent their ambassadors back to Syria to champion protesters.

Last Updated: Dec 07, 2011, 09:29 AM IST

Washington: The United States and France sent their ambassadors back to Syria to champion protesters, demanding that the regime protect the envoys who had been pulled out due to safety fears.

US Ambassador Robert Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier had faced harassment and threats as they shone a light on President Bashar al-Assad`s nine-month crackdown, in
which more than 4,000 people are said to have died.

"We believe his presence in the country is among the most effective ways to send the message that the United States stands with the people of Syria," US State Department
spokesman Mark Toner said yesterday as the two envoys flew back in.

Ford will seek to provide "reliable reporting on the situation on the ground" and engage "with the full spectrum of Syrian society on how to end the bloodshed and achieve a
peaceful political transition," Toner said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney demanded that Syria
uphold international obligations to protect foreign diplomats
and allow US officers "to conduct their work free of
intimidation or obstacles."

In Paris, deputy foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal
said that the concerns that led to Chevallier`s recall have
not gone away but that "his work on the ground in Syria is
important."

"France is more than ever at the side of the Syrian people," Nadal told reporters.

The US and French ambassadors had both traveled in Syria
to document protests and show their support, amid official
attempts to prevent international media and observers from
witnessing the bloodshed firsthand.

The United States announced on October 24 that Ford had
been brought back to Washington because of "credible threats."

Assad supporters had pelted Ford and the embassy staff
with tomatoes and damaged US vehicles as they visited an
oppositio leader in Damascus.

The French ambassador was recalled on November 16 after
mobs loyal to Assad attacked France`s honorary consulate in
the northern city of Latakia and the detached chancery in
Aleppo.

PTI