World leaders urge Syria's President Assad to quit
Published 18/08/2011 | 16:39
David Cameron today joined the leaders of France and Germany in calling on Syria's President Bashar al Assad to end the violence and stand down in the best interests of his country.
In a joint statement, Mr Cameron, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel said Assad had "lost all legitimacy" and could no longer claim to lead his people.
The move - following a similar call from US President Barack Obama - represented a deliberate ratcheting up of pressure by the West on the regime in Damascus.
In their statement, the three European leaders condemned the "bloody repression" of peaceful demonstration against the Syrian government and the "massive violations of human rights" by the regime over the past months.
"We urge the Syrian regime to stop all violence immediately, to release all prisoners of conscience and to allow free access to the United Nations for an independent assessment of the situation," they said.
"Our three countries believe that President Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people and who is responsible for the situation, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer claim to lead the country.
"We call on him to face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people and to step aside in the best interests of Syria and the unity of its people."
They said they were "actively supporting" further strong sanctions by the European Union against the regime.
In his statement, President Obama said the US was imposing "unprecedented sanctions" in order to deepen the financial isolation of Mr Assad, whom he accused of "imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people".
"We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside," he said.
EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton also issued a statement noting "the complete loss of Bashar al-Assad's legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the necessity for him to step aside".