Arab and Western nations in Tunisia for the first "Friends of Syria" meeting called Friday for an immediate end to violence in the country and for new sanctions on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
In a final declaration, the group called for the regime to immediately end all violence to allow for humanitarian aid to be brought in.
"The Friends' Group called on the Syrian government immediately to cease all violence and to allow free and unimpeded access by the U.N. and humanitarian agencies," it said.
"It demanded that the Syrian regime immediately permit humanitarian agencies to deliver vital relief goods and services to civilians affected by the violence," it said.
It also vowed to "press the Syrian regime to stop all acts of violence" by enforcing current sanctions and introducing new ones, including with travel bans, asset freezes, ceasing oil purchases, reducing diplomatic ties and preventing the shipment of arms.
"Participants committed to take steps to apply and enforce restrictions and sanctions on the regime and its supporters as a clear message to the Syrian regime that it cannot attack civilians with impunity," it said.
It also recognized the main opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), as "a legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change" but fell short of giving it exclusive recognition.
The declaration did not fully endorse some Arab calls for peacekeepers to be deployed to Syria, with the declaration saying only that it "noted the Arab League's request to the United Nations Security Council to issue a resolution to form a joint Arab-U.N. peacekeeping force."
Earlier on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the conference that Assad would pay a "heavy cost" for ignoring the will of the international community after almost a year of brutal crackdowns on protesters.
Tunisia, the host of the international meeting, called for an Arab peacekeeping force to be sent in to help bring an end to the killings, and for Assad to be granted immunity to persuade him to stand down.
The meeting comes two days before Syrians are called to vote on a new constitution that could end 50 years of the rule of the Baath Party though keeps wide powers with the president.
"The current situation demands an Arab intervention in the framework of the League, an Arab force to keep peace and security, to accompany diplomatic efforts to convince Bashar to leave," Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said.
"A political solution must be found, such as granting the Syrian president, his family and members of his regime judicial immunity and a place to seek refuge, which Russia could offer."
The call for peacekeepers was backed by Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, who said such a force was needed to maintain security, open humanitarian corridors and implement Arab League decisions on the crisis.
More than 7,600 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad's rule erupted last March, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
As she also announced $10 million in aid for humanitarian efforts, Clinton said the meeting should send a "clear message" to Assad: "You will pay a heavy cost for ignoring the will of the international community and violating the human rights of your people."
The main opposition umbrella group the Syrian National Council has warned that military intervention might be the "only option" to end the crackdown, but Western and Arab nations have so far rejected the idea of a foreign mission similar to the operation that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.
Clinton on Thursday described the SNC as a "credible representative" and would demonstrate that "there is an alternative" to Assad's regime.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe also Friday described the SNC as "the legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition ... the pole around which the opposition must organize".
Juppe told journalists that the meeting would call for tougher sanctions in order to make Assad's regime "fold".
"The conference will make a call for strengthening sanctions in a way to make the regime fold," Juppe said at the meeting in Tunisia, mentioning a freeze on assets of the Syrian central bank in particular.
The European Union is set to slap fresh sanctions on Syria on Monday, including a ban on Syrian-run cargo flights into the bloc, a freeze on Syrian central bank assets and restrictions on trade in gold and precious metals.
But the Tunis conference was marked by the absence of Russia and China highlighting the difficulty in building an international consensus on Syria. Both countries have frustrated efforts to rein in Assad's regime, including by vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Alexei Pushkov, the head of the international affairs committee of Russia's State Duma lower house, told reporters after a visit to Damascus that Assad was not ready to resign and that he claims to feel strong support.
A Syria-based opposition group, the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC), also said it was boycotting the Tunis conference, complaining of exclusion and fearing escalated militarization.
As the meeting opened in Tunis, police armed with batons beat back several dozen protesters trying to enter the venue chanting "No to the conference!" and "No meeting of the enemies of Arab nations".
Meanwhile, Syrian state television broadcast live coverage of the conference in Tunis, dubbing it the "enemies of Syria" meeting.
"The conference in Tunis is a meeting of the enemies of the Syrian people," said the mouthpiece of the regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad, as it broadcast footage of the opening of the gathering in Tunisia.
The state broadcaster broadcast a written commentary over the conference speakers on its ticker banner, apparently to reflect the views of the Damascus regime.
When Tunisia’s Marzouki spoke, the commentary was that he demanded "support for the terrorists and described them as rebels."
And when Qatar’s prime minister addressed the conference delegates, the comment on Syrian television was: "Hamad, a new phase of the conspiracy against Syria."
Damascus accuses oil- and gas-rich Qatar of funding the opposition and rebels in the uprising against Assad's regime which erupted in March 2011.
Television reporters also sought the views of people on the street about the Tunis meeting.
"We don't want intervention," said one man as bystanders gathered round the camera.
The channel also aired footage of a demonstration in Tunis against the meeting, as a guest commentator slammed the meeting and Arab countries attending it.
The United Nations on Thursday named its former leader Kofi Annan as a joint U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, a move welcomed by Russia which called for an immediate ceasefire to evacuate wounded from Homs.
"We hope that the work of this respected statesman will assist in solving the acute political and humanitarian problems in Syria," the Russian foreign ministry said.
Amnesty International demanded Friday that aid agencies be given immediate access to Homs and other protest cities.
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