US vice president nominees call for 'safe zone' in Syria at debate


Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine said the US should protect Syrian civilians

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence at the vice presidential debate on Tuesday (AFP)
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Last update: 
Wednesday 5 October 2016 3:34 UTC

Both Democratic and Republican vice presidential nominees said on Tuesday they support setting up safe zones for civilians in northern Syria.

The United States ended talks with the Russians over securing a ceasefire agreement in Aleppo this week. But Donald Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, and Hillary Clinton’s VP pick Senator Tim Kaine said the United States should act to protect Syrian civilians from government and Russian airstrikes.

“The United States of America needs to be prepared to work with our allies in the region to create a route for safe passage and then to protect people in those areas including with a no-fly zone,” Republican Pence said at the vice presidential debate on Tuesday.

Kaine also advocated a humanitarian zone but criticised Trump for making positive comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, the presidential candidates themselves have not announced such plans for Syria.

Both candidates' Syria policies centre around combating the Islamic State group.

On refugees

Pence defended his position on suspending Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States. Earlier this week, a federal judge struck down a move by Pence to suspend the programme in Indiana. A US Court of Appeals ruled that Pence has no evidence for his argument that Syrian refugees could be IS recruits sent to infiltrate the United States.

But at the debate, Pence did not retreat from his opposition to resettling refugees in the US.

The Republican VP nominee said the safety of Americans is his number one priority, adding that two Syrian refugees were involved in the deadly attacks in Paris in November 2015.

While French authorities said two of the attackers in Paris carried fake Syrian passports, it has not been confirmed that they were actually refugees.

Pence also backed Trump’s proposal for “extreme vetting” of would-be immigrants, which would include ideological testing.

I am committed to suspending the Syrian refugee programme and programmes and immigration from areas of the world that have been compromised by terrorism,” he said.

Kaine said he supports vetting refugees, but not based on national origin.