Assad to conduct televised interview

Updated: 2011-08-21 09:54


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DAMASCUS - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will appear in an interview with the Syrian television Sunday on the country's recent situation and escalating international pressure, the official Sana news agency reported Saturday.

It said the president would also talk about the process of reforms and its continuous steps.

Assad to conduct televised interview
International pressure has mounted on al-Assad for his alleged crackdown on anti-government protesters, as US President Barack Obama, for the first time, explicitly urged al-Assad to step down on Thursday and imposed new economic sanctions.

The fresh US sanctions would freeze the Syrian government's assets under US jurisdiction, bar US individuals or companies from transactions with al-Assad's government and ban US import of Syrian petroleum.

Washington's sanctions are likely to have limited impact, due to the low level of US-Syrian trade and US oil import from Syria, but are followed by the European nations, which consume 95 percent of Syria's oil export.

Britain, France and Germany have also demanded that al-Assad leave power. Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) on Friday decided to add 20 new names to the list of Syrians targeted by asset freeze and travel ban.

Russia, a crucial ally to the Syrian leadership, did not support the latest US and EU call for al-Assad to resign, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

"We do not support these calls and believe al-Assad's regime ought to be given some time to complete all the reforms he announced," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

The ministry also stressed the importance of al-Assad's latest promise to stop all the military operations and Damascus decision to accept a UN mission on August 20.

Syria has been in unrest since mid-March when anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Daraa and spread to other cities.

The Syrian authorities blamed the unrest on "armed groups and foreign conspiracy," and stressed that it would track down gunmen who have intimidated people and damaged public and private properties.

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