Billboard supporting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad during a period of unrest inside this Middle Eastern state. Assad delivered a speech to the Syrian parliament on March 30, 2011 saying that there was a foreign plot against the country., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
U.N., UK welcome Arab League's suspension of Syria
LONDON/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations and Britain joined a chorus of approval for the Arab League's suspension of Syria that some Western leaders said should prompt tougher international action against President Bashar al-Assad.
Assad has pressed ahead with a crackdown on protesters against his rule despite an Arab League peace plan brokered on November 2. The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed in seven months of violence.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the League's decision on Saturday as "strong and courageous."
"He welcomes the League's intention to provide protection for the civilians, and expresses his readiness to provide the relevant support when requested," a U.N. statement said.
The Arab League said on Saturday it would impose economic and political sanctions on Damascus and had appealed to member states to withdraw their ambassadors as well as calling for a meeting of Syrian opposition parties.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said, "This sends a clear message to President Assad and his regime who continue to refuse to allow political transition in Syria and are responsible for an escalation of violence and repression."
"We remain clear -- President Assad needs to step aside and political transition needs to be taken forward now."
(Writing by Louise Ireland in London; Additional reporting by Adrian Croft in London; Editing by Peter Cooney)