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EU leaders urge Assad to step down

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The leaders of the European Union on Sunday called on Syria's president to step down as international pressure mounts on the regime after months of violent crackdown against protesters.

The leaders of the European Union on Sunday called on Syria's president to step down as international pressure mounts on the regime after months of violent crackdown against protesters.

"President Bashar al-Assad must resign," British Prime Minister David Cameron said after the end of an extraordinary meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. The EU leaders are ready to impose further sanctions on Syria if repressions against civilians continue, he added.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that al-Assad was "standing in the way" of the Syrian people. "For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for president Assad to step aside."

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, also said it was time for the Syrian leader to step down.

On October 4, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution that urged the Syrian regime to immediately stop using violence against protesters or face "targeted measures."

The draft resolution, sponsored by France with Britain, Germany and Portugal, was supported by nine of 15 Security Council members. Four others - Brazil, India, South Africa and Lebanon - abstained.

President Assad said in late August that Washington and its European partners were hindering political changes in Syria, while political solution was the only way out of the country's crisis.

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