Last updated: 11 March, 2012

German Foreign Minister urges political solution to end Syria violence

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday called for a political solution to end violence in Syria, where monitors say a regime crackdown on dissent has killed thousands.

“We are currently working on achieving three aims — ending the bloodshed, delivering aid to the people, and a peaceful political transition,” said Westerwelle told a news conference in Saudi Arabia.

“We saw this possible in Yemen and we are focusing on transition” taking place in Syria, Westerwelle said, according to an Arabic translation of remarks he made in German.

Veteran Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh quit power last month after deadly protests against his rule, under a Gulf-brokered transitional deal which saw his deputy Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi sworn in as the new president.

Saleh agreed to step down in exchange for immunity for himself and his family and the Arab League has proposed a similar solution to end the violence in Syria.

Westerwelle, who made a brief visit to Yemen on Saturday, said “the use of violence by Assad’s regime is unacceptable.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who spoke at the same press conference, slammed the Syrian regime accusing it of committing “butchery against its people.”

At least 8,500 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

“It is inhumane to see what is going on and not support Syrians in defending themselves,” said Faisal, who has previously backed the idea of arming the opposition against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

“Nobody is against the Syrian regime but we are against what it is doing. If it stops, then this is up to the Syrian people” to decide whether or not Assad should continue to rule, he added.

Faisal also criticised support by Russia and China for the Syrian regime saying “the events taking place in Syria are not in their interest.”

Russia and China twice vetoed UN Security Council against Syria, triggering the ire of the international community.