- - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

SYRIA

U.S. slams Syria over rights meeting walkout

GENEVA — The United States criticized Syria’s envoy Tuesday for storming out of an emergency U.N. meeting on the crisis in his country, saying the walkout and a fiery speech that preceded it demonstrated the “delusional” nature of President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Fayssal al-Hamwi, accused members of the U.N. Human Rights Council of promoting terrorism and prolonging the crisis in his country by holding an urgent meeting on Syria.

“Anybody who heard the Syrian ambassador should be aware that his comments were borderline out of touch with reality,” Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. representative to the 47-nation council, told reporters.

Mr. al-Hamwi took the floor shortly after the U.N.’s top human rights official called for an immediate cease-fire in Syria and unhindered access for aid agencies to deliver emergency supplies and evacuate the sick and wounded.

Calling it part of “a pre-established plan,” the ambassador said the meeting was “aimed at attacking the Syrian state and its institutions under the pretext of humanitarian needs.”

As diplomats and government officials from 70 countries lined up to express their concern about the deteriorating situation in Syria, Mr. al-Hamwi announced that his delegation would withdraw from what he called “this sterile discussion.”

Before storming out of the room, he denounced a planned resolution on Syria as “malicious and prejudiced.”

TUNISIA

Tunisia ready to offer asylum to Assad

TUNIS — Tunisia’s president has told a local paper he is ready to offer asylum to Syrian leader Bashar Assad as part of a negotiated solution to end Syria’s conflict, the paper’s website announced said Tuesday.

President Moncef Marzouki said the offer would extend to Mr. Assad’s associates, in an interview set to appear Wednesday in the French-language daily La Presse.

Tunisia would be a surprising choice for Mr. Assad’s retirement as it was the first Arab nation to topple a longtime autocrat when its former president fled the country a year ago in the face of protests.

Tunisia was the first country to recall its ambassador from Syria, and it hosted an international conference Friday that called for an immediate cease-fire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the country.

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