The on-going violence in Syria and how best to end it were primary topics of discussion between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. “It is deplorable,” said Secretary Clinton, “that the [Syrian] regime has escalated violence in cities across the country, including using artillery and tank fire against innocent civilians. We stand with the Syrian people and we are looking for a peaceful resolution.” Since March 2011, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has killed well over 5,000 people.
The United States and Turkey continue to call on the Assad regime to heed the Arab League’s latest efforts to end the killing immediately, withdraw military forces from residential areas, allow in monitors and journalists, release political prisoners, and begin a genuine, sincere democratic transition that starts with a serious dialogue with the opposition.
The Arab League called on Syrian opposition groups to unite ahead of a February 24th meeting in Tunisia of the “Friends of Syria” group, which includes the United States, its European allies and Arab nations working to end the uprising against Assad’s authoritarian rule.
Turkey and the United States, said Secretary Clinton, will intensify their diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime by strengthening targeted sanctions and increasing outreach to opposition both inside and outside of Syria. At the same time, both countries are exploring ways to address the growing humanitarian crisis within Syria. The U.S. and Turkey have increased funding to international humanitarian partners providing medical assistance to Syrians, and are working directly with Syrian organizations to help families who have no electricity, food, or clean water.
The United States and Turkey will work together with like-minded partners to promote a peaceful political process in Syria. “This is essential,” Secretary Clinton said, “and the Syrian people deserve no less than a democratic future free of government oppression, terrorism, and violent extremism.”