In joint appearance with Peres in Washington, Clinton condemns Syria for using attack helicopters to quash uprising (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Natasha Mozgovaya 06/13/12)
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Secretary of State appeared alongside Israeli President at Washington
event; Peres to raise issue of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in a
meeting with President Obama.
WASHINGTON - Israeli President Shimon Peres and U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton appeared on Tuesday at the Saban Center for
Middle East Policy, where they spoke about the escalating violence in
Syria, the negotiations with Iran and the peace process with the
At the event, Clinton expressed deep concern over Russia´s reported
shipment of attack helicopters to the Syrian regime. "Attack
helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria will escalate the
conflict quite dramatically," she said.
The event was held a day before Peres was scheduled to meet U.S.
President Barack Obama – a meeting at which Peres promised to raise
the issue of clemency for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard “on
On Tuesday, two U.S. lawmakers circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter,
expressing support for Peres’ bid for clemency. Pollard has spent
more than 26years in a federal prison for passing classified
information to Israeli officials.
Congressmen Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Christopher Smith (R-NJ), are
behind the initiative. In a letter to Obama, the duo wrote: "Mr.
Pollard has expressed remorse for his actions, and his health is
reportedly declining - he has recently been hospitalized for kidney
and gallstone problems. It is also clear that Mr. Pollard has served
a disproportionately severe sentence. A number of people convicted of
spying for other countries, ranging from the former Soviet Union to
South Korea, have been given lighter sentences than Mr. Pollard. We
would not expect that Mr. Pollard would be treated any better than
anyone else who has committed similar acts, but we certainly do not
believe he should be treated any worse."
On the situation in Syria, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria
Nuland said in briefing on Tuesday that the U.S. "has been pushing
the Russians for months to break their military ties with the Syrian
regime, and they haven´t done it." Instead, she said," they keep
reassuring all of us that what they´re sending militarily to Syria
can´t be used against civilians.
“But now what are we seeing? We´re seeing the Syrian government using
helicopters to fire on their own people from the air. So our question
remains, how can the Russians conscience their continued military
sales to Syria?” asked Nuland.
Nevertheless, Clinton stressed that the U.S. still supports Kofi
Annan´s plan. "We do so because he represents both the United Nations
and the Arab League", she said.
"It´s quite unprecedented to have a joint special envoy who is
speaking for two organizations that have seen their common interests
in trying to bring an end to the violence and help to precipitate and
then shepherd through a political transition,” said Clinton.
“The six-point plan that former Secretary-General Annan laid out is a
good plan. Of course, it´s not being implemented, and of course, the
contempt and rejection of the first principle of that plan - namely
the cessation of violence by the Assad regime -has certainly been a
grave assault not only on the lives of the Syrian people, but on the
international effort intended to bring an end to this ongoing
conflict,” said Clinton.
In mid-July, the UN Security Council will decide whether or not to
extend the observers mission that, as Clinton noted, is becoming more
and more dangerous.
Peres stated that it is better for Arab nations to deal with the
situation in Syria themselves – so that no other countries will be
blamed for interventionism. "They are ready, let them take the
responsibility, let us support them in any way we can. The Arab
league should and can do it,” said Peres.
Speaking about changes in the Middle East, Peres expressed optimism
with regard to the possibility to reach a peace agreement with the
Palestinians. "To have a state you need to build a nation and
Palestinians started to build a nation," he said.
Commenting on the Arab Spring, Clinton urged to regard the transition
with patience. "We need both humility and patience,” she said.
"We have to remember we [the U.S.] didn´t have a straight line - we
didn´t include everybody in the first run, we excluded women, we had
to fight a civil war to free slaves. Time has sped up, but work that
has to be done is much harder today than even when the Berlin wall
fell. Every step is now scrutinized,” said Clinton.
Clinton also commented on upcoming nuclear talks with Iran, to be
held in Moscow. Peres expressed skepticism regarding the talks,
claiming that the Iranians "are taking advantage of the American
"I am quite certain the Iranian regime is under tremendous pressure
from the Russians and Chinese to come to Moscow prepared," Clinton
“The Russians have made it very clear that they expect the Iranians
to advance the discussion in Moscow, not just come, listen and leave.
The unity and resolve that was shown so far is of real significance,”
"Let me talk about Iran without passion, to be really straight and
cool, and say Iran -- the Iranians are not our enemies. In history we
had many very friendly relations," Peres said, "So I´m asking myself,
why are we really against Iran? Is it just because of nuclear bomb?
Not only. They are the only ones that want to renew imperialism -- we
can´t accept it" (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 06/13/12)
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