April 12 - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Syria's ceasefire is a first step but that the Assad regime must accept political transition. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION U.S. Secretary of State Clinton said on Thursday (April 12) the ceasefire in Syria was just a first step and the United States supported sending an advance team to Syria immediately ahead of a potential U.N. monitoring mission. Clinton said the "Group of Eight" foreign ministers welcomed that violence in Syria had abated, but this was just one element in former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan. She said Syria must meet other obligations, including a pullback of troops and tanks from cities and allowing humanitarian aid. "We welcome joint special envoy Kofi Annan's report that the violence in Syria, at least for the moment, has abated," she said. "If it holds, a ceasefire is an important step but it represents just one element of the special envoy's plan." While G8 countries had been meeting in Washington, their representatives were also meeting in New York to discuss a potential U.N. monitoring mission that would go to Syria under the right conditions, Clinton said. She said the United States supports sending an advance team to begin this work immediately, but only if certain conditions were met by the Assad regime first. "The Annan plan is not a menu of options. It is a set of obligations. The burden of fully and visibly meeting all of these obligations continues to rest with the regime. They cannot pick and choose," Clinton told reporters at the State Department. Syrian troops held their fire on Thursday after the U.N.-backed ceasefire deadline passed, but Annan pressed President Bashar al-Assad's government to pull its forces back entirely. Clinton said "the regime's war" in Syria must end and a political transition must begin. "Assad will have to go and the Syrian people must be given the chance to chart their own future," she said. Clinton also spoke about Iran and North Korea. She said there were signs Iran will bring proposals to talks in Istanbul this Saturday between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. "We are receiving signals that they are bringing ideas to the table," Clinton said ahead of this Saturday's talks. "We want them to demonstrate, clearly, in the actions they propose that they have truly abandoned any nuclear weapons ambition." On North Korea, Clinton said the G8 foreign ministers urged North Korea, which plans to launch a satellite, to avoid provocations. "The G8 ministers expressed our concerns that North Korea continues to prepare to launch a ballistic missile in violation of UN security council resolutions and its own national commitments," she said. "We urge the North Korean leadership to honor its agreements and refrain from pursuing a cycle of provocation." The G8 includes the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Germany, Italy and Russia.