Middle East News
US, Turkish leaders discuss Syrian violence
Aug 12, 2011, 1:20 GMT
Washington - US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone Thursday to discuss the violence against demonstrators in Syria, which borders Turkey.
The two leaders voiced 'deep concern about the Syrian government's use of violence against civilians and their belief that the Syrian people's legitimate demands for a transition to democracy should be met,' the White House said in a statement.
Obama and Erdogan agreed 'on the need for an immediate halt of all bloodshed and violence against the Syrian people.' Washington and Ankara will 'closely monitor the actions that the Syrian government is taking' and continue to 'consult closely' on the crisis.
Turkey has long been close to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but has taken a strong position against the recent use of force against opposition protesters.
On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spent more than six hours meeting with Assad.
Earlier, Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, reiterated Washington's position that Assad has 'long since lost his opportunity to lead the transition that the Syrian people are demanding take place.'
'We believe that a transition needs to take place in Syria, and that Syria will be better off without President Assad,' he said. 'And we support those who are seeking a peaceful transition in Syria.'
He pointed out that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met last week with Syrian opposition supporters outside the country.
Carney said that the United States is working 'aggressively with our international partners to put pressure on President Assad to get him to stop brutalizing his own people.'
Washington is continuing to 'ratchet up the pressure on the Syrian regime' through financial sanctions, Carney said.
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