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No U.S. call for Assad ouster yet, but pressure to continue - Clinton

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The United States will not call for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but will continue pushing for sanctions from countries with more direct economic ties to Damascus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

The United States will not call for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but will continue pushing for sanctions from countries with more direct economic ties to Damascus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

The United States is focused on building an international chorus of condemnation, since it is far more effective than from the United States or Europe, she told an audience at the National Defense University.

"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."

The U.S. approach was based on "smart power" rather than outright force, she said.

"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," the U.S. top diplomat said.

Syria has been rocked by mass protests demanding reforms and the resignation of al-Assad for almost six months. Pressure from international powers has mounted to end the crackdown, with condemnations from Egypt, Iraq, Russia and Turkey.

About 2,000 civilians are thought to have been killed since protests began in the southern city of Deraa in mid-March. According to government data, over 500 servicemen and security officers were also killed.

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