‘Friends of Syria’ consider ultimatum to Assad



LONDON (AP) — The United States, Europe and Arab nations are preparing to challenge Syrian President Bashar Assad to agree to a ceasefire and allow humanitarian aid within days into areas hardest hit by his regime’s brutal crackdown on opponents.

U.S., European and Arab officials were meeting in London on Thursday to craft details of an ultimatum to Assad that will be presented at a major international conference on Syria set for Friday in Tunisia. Diplomats said one idea is to demand that Assad comply within 72 hours or face as-yet-unspecified actions likely to include toughened sanctions.

In addition, the Tunis conference will explore further isolating Assad and his inner circle as well as boosting engagement with the Syrian opposition to help them prepare for an eventual democratic transition.