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Sarkozy and Merkel vow to support Syria despite China, Russia block on international action

Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

France and Germany will not accept the blocking of international action on Syria by Russia and China, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday after a meeting in Paris with German Chanchellor Angela Merkel. 

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Russia and China on Saturday blocked a UN Security Council resolution proposed by Arab states condemning Syria for its crackdown on protests,.

"Germany and France will not abandon the Syrian people. What is happening is a scandal. We are not ready to accept indecision or the blocking of the international community," Sarkozy said. He added that Prime Minister François Fillon was set to speak with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin later on Monday.

The president’s statement comes as Syrian forces on Monday pounded the restive city of Homs with mortars, rockets and shelled another protest hub according to activists.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 17 people had died in Homs and at least one person in the town of Zabadani near the capital Damascus.

As well as Syria, the French and German leaders discussed the economic crisis in the eurozone and called on Greece to "live up to their responsibilities" by voting in favour of an unpopular austerity package designed to slash its deficit.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Speaking at a joint news conference. Merkel warned that Greece can receive no more EU aid to cope with the crisis until it reaches a deal with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on tightening up its budget.

Merkel said both she and Sarkozy, leaders of the two largest economies in the eurozone, would remain united and determined in their approach to Greece.

The German Chancellor and the bulk of the German cabinet descended on Paris, Monday in what is seen as a mission to rescue her French ally President Nicolas Sarkozy's struggling re-election campaign.

Sarkozy trails Socialist challenger François Hollande in the opinion polls, less than 80 days before the French election, and Merkel fears that a new left-wing French administration will diverge from her austerity plans.

Sarkozy, still smarting from France's loss of its AAA debt rating, now cites Germany's success almost daily to justify his own policies, drawing inspiration from both Merkel and her centre-left predecessor Gerhard Schroeder.

The leader of Merkel's CDU party, Hermann Grohe, has confirmed that Merkel will support Sarkozy "at campaign events in the spring".
 

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