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Syrian minister blames west for crackdown
Syrian minister blames external critics for delays in Assad regime reforms
By The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ' The Syrian foreign minister is ignoring the mounting death toll from the government crackdown on dissenters and is blaming external critics for causing delays in President Bashar Assad's plans for democratic reforms.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem sought to paint Syria on Monday as having been on the brink of wide-ranging democratic reforms when foreign inspired religious radicals and armed groups forced the Assad regime to put down the rebellion to hold the country together.

The Syrian government is under stiff sanctions by world governments, including the United States which has said Assad should step aside.

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