France Calls for 'Accelerated' Regime Change in Syria

EU publishes new round of sanctions against Syria on Saturday; Russia, China have blocked Western attempts to pass tougher UN Security Council resolutions.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Saturday called for international pressure to mount on Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has not heeded international call to stop a bloody crackdown on protesters.

"We have tried to advise Bashar al Assad to launch a reform process. He has not done it, so today we need to accelerate regime change," Juppe said after a meeting with European Union counterparts in Sopot, Poland.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe - AP - July 15 2011

That "means toughening sanctions ... continue working in the United Nations to secure a more explicit condemnation of the Syrian regime ... work with the opposition," Juppe said.

Russia and China have blocked Western attempts to get the UN Security Council to adopt tougher resolutions against Syria - a position that has been interpreted as a backlash against NATO using a UN resolution to bomb Libya.

Juppe said there was "no question of launching a military intervention" in Syria.

On Saturday, the EU published a new round of sanctions against Syria, which include an oil embargo whose application was postponed to November 15, due to Italy's insistence that the original date of October 15 had to be pushed back.

Asked whether the delay was regrettable, Juppe answered, "yes, of course." But he added, "it's already good that we decided it, every time we take a step forward we get asked 'why not two steps?'".