Jordan Calls on Syria to 'Put an Immediate End to Violence'

Syrian troops continue harsh security crackdowns in central and coastal cities, leaving at least three people dead and hundreds arrested.

Jordan's Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit called on Monday for an immediate end to Syria's crackdown on a five-month-old uprising and said speedy implementation of reforms would bring stability.

"There is a need to stop violence immediately, start implementing reforms and resort to dialogue," Bakhit was quoted by the state news agency Petra as telling his Syrian counterpart Adel Safar in a telephone call.

Latakia, Syria - Reuters - August 14, 2011

Western-backed Jordan has said little about Syria since start of the uprising and refrained from overtly criticizing its northern neighbor, with which it has close trade and political ties despite diverging views on Arab-Israeli peace talks.

But Amman, with strong ties to Saudi Arabia, has been under pressure to condemn Syria's violent military campaign to crush pro-democracy protests in recent weeks.

President Bashar aAssad, from Syria's minority Alawite sect, has broadened military crackdowns since protests intensified after the Muslim Ramadan fast began on Aug. 1.

Last week Saudi King Abdullah called for an end to the violence in Syria and withdrew the kingdom's ambassador to Damascus. Bahrain and Kuwait followed suit.

"We call for an end to military operations and implementing the needed political reforms to ensure the safety of the Syrian people and Syria's security and its stability," Bakhit was quoted as saying.

"An almost unanimous international stance has crystallized in favor of rejecting the continuation of these scenes... and the need to end them immediately," Bakhit added.

The United States, a close ally of Jordan, has stopped short of calling for Assad to bow to demands for an end to his 11-year rule, but it imposed extra sanctions on Syria last week and urged other countries to stop buying Syrian oil and gas.

Jordan's King Abdullah, responding to pressure from pro-democracy protesters at home, said on Sunday proposed reforms that would transfer some of his powers to parliament and enhance civil liberties would pave the way for a prime minister chosen by a parliamentary majority, rather than by the palace.

Meanwhile, Syrian troops continued harsh security crackdowns in central and coastal cities on Monday, leaving at least three people dead and hundreds arrested.

Security forces attacked the Mediterranean port city of Latakia, for the third consecutive day. Heavy gunfire was heard in the city Monday, a day after as many as 29 people died in a military bombardment by warships and tanks.