King Abdullah of Jordan became the first Arab leader to publicly suggest Syria's President Bashar al-Assad should resign, adding to international pressure against his government to end its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
His remarks come amid a looming Arab League ultimatum on Syria to halt the crackdown-which has left some 3,500 people dead, according to the United Nations-or face sanctions and suspension from the 22-nation Arab bloc starting Wednesday, says Wall Street Journal.
"By international agreement, the responsibility to protect embassies and other diplomatic missions falls on the host country," Amad said, underlining the protection afforded to the Syrian embassy in Amman despite widespread anger in Jordan over the bloodshed in the Arab neighbouring country.
Jordan's King Abdullah II on Monday became the first Arab leader to openly call for Assad to step down, two days after the Arab League took the rare move of suspending Syrian membership of the 22-nation bloc, reports Telegraph.co.uk.
Syria's crackdown has brought international condemnation, but Damascus generally has been spared broad reproach in the Arab world. That changed Saturday, with a near-unanimous vote by the 22-member Arab League to suspend Syria.
Earlier Monday, Syria struck back at its international critics, branding an Arab League decision to suspend its membership as "shameful and malicious" and accusing other Arabs of conspiring with the West to undermine the regime.
The sharp rebuke suggests Damascus fears the United States and its allies might use the rare Arab consensus to press for tougher sanctions at the United Nations.
Assad says extremists pushing a foreign agenda to destabilize Syria are behind the unrest, not true reform-seekers aiming to open the country's autocratic political system, informs Atlanta Journal Constitution.