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Clinton in Saudi push to end crackdown in Syria

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Riyadh to meet with Saudi King and Foreign Minister in a bid to enforce pressure on Syria to end the bloodshed

AFP, Friday 30 Mar 2012
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal upon her arrival at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 15, 2010. (Photo: AP)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Riyadh Friday for talks with Saudi leaders as she kicked off a two-country tour aimed at raising pressure on the Syrian regime, the US embassy here said.

"Mrs Clinton has arrived in Riyadh for talks with senior Saudi officials," an embassy spokesman said.

The US State Department said earlier this week Clinton would meet Friday in Riyadh with Saudi King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

On Saturday, she is due to meet with ministers of Saudi Arabia's five Gulf Arab neighbors -- Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman -- before engaging in broader meetings Sunday with Arab, Turkish and Western officials in Istanbul.

The Friends of Syria meeting in Turkey follows the inaugural one Clinton attended in Tunis at the end of February -- a response to Western and Arab failure to win Russian and Chinese backing at the UN Security Council.

Aides said Clinton will discuss how to make President Bashar al-Assad comply with a new plan to end the crackdown on a pro-democracy movement, study further sanctions against his regime and consider ways to aid the opposition who will be in Istanbul.

Her visit comes a day after Assad said he would "spare no effort" for the success of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan but said the proposal would only work if "terrorist acts" by foreign powers stopped.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner described the president's remarks as "discouraging" and urged Assad to halt the violence immediately.

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