Clinton blunt with Russia, China over Syria

Rebels there say government forces killed at least 50 more people Friday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in North Africa, where she used her strongest language yet to condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at a conference in Tunis at a conference of world leaders known as "The Friends of Syria."

The conference was a global gathering of outrage. The result was a new set of demands, the first one being that Assad permit immediate shipments of food water and medicine, or face a world much more angry than it already is.

"If the Assad regime refuses to allow this life-saving aid to reach people in need," Clinton told the conference, "it will have even more blood on its hands. And so, too, will those nations that continue to protect and arm the regime."

She was unusually harsh on the Russians and Chinese, blaming them for a share of the violence for their veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Assad. The secretary called that veto "despicable," and asked rhetorically, "Whose side are they on"?

Clinton predicted the conference would put new pressure on Assad, but the Saudi foreign minister seemed to issue a pointblank threat. Asked if it was time to arm the Syrian rebels, he replied, "I think it is an excellent (idea) ... because they have to protect themselves."

The conference also marked the debut of the Syrian National Council, a dissident group of exiles asked to form a transitional government. The leader of the group, Burhan Ghalioun, also warned Assad to give up power peacefully -- or else, saying in Arabic, "The defenders of the people getting more and more arms. ... We are trying to negotiate a solutions, but if that fails, syria will fall into an armed struggle."

To see the Wyatt Andrews report, click on the video in the player above.

Also, Time magazine Deputy International Editor Bobby Ghosh discussed with "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host John Miller the difficulties facing nations seeking to aid the rebels and stop the violence. To see that interview, click on the video below.

  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.

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