Japan's Abe urges Syria's Assad to quit, offers fresh refugee aid

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday to step down over the violent crackdown on opposition forces, and offered $10 million in fresh emergency aid for Syrian refugees.

"In Syria, the violence must be stopped immediately. The Assad regime should step down and a government of the Syrian people should be established," Abe told reporters ahead of a session of the summit of Group of Eight major nations in Northern Ireland.

Japan supports calls from the United States and other countries for the Syrian leader to quit and provides aid to Syrian refugees and the government of Jordan, which accepts the refugees.

Later in the day at the first-day session of the summit, Abe offered $10 million in aid for refugees as well as $120 million worth of yen loans to Jordan to help ease the burden on the country in accepting the refugees.

Japan has so far extended about $80 million in humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees and displaced people in cooperation with international organizations and nongovernmental organizations.

According to the United Nations, at least 1.6 million refugees have fled Syria while some 4.25 million Syrians are internally displaced.