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Hillary Clinton, at 'Friends' meeting, has encouraging words for Syria rebels

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped short of giving an official US nod to the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime. But, as 'Friends of Syria' meeting ends, that move is likely to come soon.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a press conference following the Friends of Syria Conference in Tunis, Friday. Clinton blasted Russia and China on Friday for opposing UN Security Council action on Syria, calling it 'despicable,' and predicted an internal coup in the Arab nation.

Jason Reed/AP

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The United States stopped short of recognizing the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people at Friday's international gathering on Syria – but that move is likely to come soon.

When it does, it will reflect a shift of the international community to the side of the still-developing Syrian National Council and Syrian Free Arm and, probably, fatal isolation of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

It will also bear the imprint of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, more hawkish and interventionist than the president she serves, will have carried the day as she did less than a year ago in the case of Libya.

At Friday’s "Friends of Syria" meeting in Tunisia, more than 60 countries and international humanitarian organizations developed plans for getting humanitarian aid to Syria’s besieged population. The gathering also sought to ramp up pressure on Mr. Assad to allow safe access to humanitarian organizations to get aid into the country.

In an initial sign that Assad might be listening, the Syrian Red Crescent reported Friday that it was being allowed to evacuate wounded women and children from the most devastated neighborhoods of Homs, a city under relentless bombardment by government forces over recent weeks.

The “Friends” meeting also endorsed the concept of a joint Arab League-United Nations peacekeeping force that would enter Syria, presumably once Assad left power, and secure the country during a democratic transition process.

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