US Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday defended her country against criticism it has not been forceful enough in condemning ongoing violence in Syria because its officials have stopped short of calling for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, dpa reported.
Clinton said condemnation from the region will be far more effective than from the United States or Europe.
When asked directly during a televised conversation between Clinton and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta whether it was time for the US to call for Assad to step down, Clinton said the US was focussed on building an international chorus of condemnation and pushing for sanctions from countries with more direct economic ties to Damascus.
"It's not going to be any news if the United States says, 'Assad needs to go.' OK, fine. What's next?" she said.
"If Turkey says it, if King Abdullah says it, if other people say it, there is no way the Assad regime can ignore it. We don't have, you know, very much going on with Syria because of a long history of challenging problems with them. So I think this is smart power. And I talk a lot about smart power, where it's not just brute force, it's not just unilateralism."