Syria Q and A from White House Press Briefing

Excerpt from White House Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 3/19/12:

Q. Thank you. On Syria, what is the next move for the U.S. there? The President has frequently talked about how we’re keeping up the pressure, that it’s just a matter of time before Assad will go, yet the violence continues and Assad remains in power. So what’s the next move?

MR. CARNEY: Well, we are continuing to work with a broad international coalition to isolate the Assad regime, put pressure on the Assad regime. We are also strongly supportive of Kofi Annan’s mission. We are helping with our partners to ensure that sanctions against the regime are enforced globally, and we are continuing to work with our partners to provide humanitarian assistance.

It is vital for every country to understand that the kind of brutality perpetrated by the Assad regime against the Syrian people puts Assad on the wrong side of history, and supporting that regime is the wrong way to go, as we’ve made clear. We’re going to work with the “Friends of Syria” and our international partners on this issue to continue to put pressure on Assad, to continue to call on Assad to cease the violence, and to provide humanitarian assistance.

Q. At what point are all of those things not enough — putting on the pressure, calling on Assad to cease the violence — if the violence continues?

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I think the President has addressed this issue as have I. Specifically if you’re asking, for example, about providing arms, we still believe that it is not the right approach to take to contribute to the militarization of the situation in Syria. We make the point that as we deal with the upheavals and countries across the region, we look at them very specifically. Each country is different. The circumstances in each country is different. The comparison is often made in questions that were asked to the situation in Libya, and the differences I think are often spelled out.

So I don’t want to predict in the future at what point, if certain things happen or don’t happen, additional strategies might be put in place. I would simply say that the approach we’re taking now is the one we believe is the right one — working with the “Friends of Syria,” working with the international community — to further isolate and pressure Assad, helping with our allies to provide humanitarian assistance, and hopefully further uniting the international community against the Assad regime because of its brutality.

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