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SYRIA: Government official slams Clinton's criticism of Assad, 'flagrant' Western interference

July 12, 2011 | 10:19 am

An unnamed government source sharply denounced Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's condemnation of Syrian President Bashar Assad, calling it "provocative" evidence of the West's "flagrant" intervention in local affairs, the Syrian state news agency SANA reported.

"We believe that any relationship between states should be built on the principle of noninterference and we hold the United States to this condition, hoping that they will not act in a way that is offensive to the Syrians," added the official source. 

Syria dialogueAccording to the source, the purpose of Clinton’s statement was to aggravate the already dire situation, an aim that coincides neither with Syrian interests nor with the wellbeing of the Syrian people as a whole. 

Clinton's criticism of Assad came after an attack by pro-regime protestors on the American and French embassies Monday afternoon.

"He has lost legitimacy. He has failed to deliver on the promises he's made," Clinton told reporters in Washington. "He is not indispensible. We have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power," she said. 

The Syrian source responded that the Syrian president's legitimacy did not extend from the United States but from the Syrian people themselves who "show their daily support of the regime and the reform initiatives."

Meanwhile, in Damascus, Syrian intelligence officers came down on anti-regime protestors on the heels of the state-sponsored dialogue’s final session, reported one activist, Omar Idilby, on Tuesday. 

The country's main network of activists, the Local Coordination Committee, boycotted the regime-backed, three-day round of negotiations held to discuss future reforms. 

The negotiations, which Assad termed "consultative meetings," began on Sunday and ended with a statement listing vague points of consensus among participants without outlining a tangible framework for advancement.

Points mentioned included "recommending that all those who were detained during the recent incidents and who have not been proven guilty by the judicial authorities be released" and "turning attention to the young Syrian generation and listening to their voice and requirements.

Opposition figures had foreseen the futility of the national dialogue.  

"Nothing is going to change because no one has the power to change. The president has all the prerogatives. He is the ruler, the judge. He is God," said Omar Hamwe, a member of the LCC, from Hama on Sunday, the first day of the national dialogue. 

-- Roula Hajjar in Beirut

Photo: Participants discuss goals for reform in the regime-backed national dialogue session in Damascus. Credit: Syrian Arab News Agency

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