(AFP) – Mar 22, 2012
WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend the next "Friends of Syria" talks in Turkey, an official said Thursday, amid efforts to end the Syrian regime's bloody year-old crackdown.
Clinton will join the April 1 talks in Istanbul after she took part in the first such meeting in Tunis last month that drew 60 countries, including Turkey, Arab states and western powers, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Nuland told reporters the new meeting will build on efforts in Tunis to end the violence, enable the delivery of humanitarian aid and launch a political process aimed at replacing President Bashar al-Assad.
The State Department spokeswoman noted that United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's own six-point plan support such an approach.
"So we look forward to the agenda that the Turkish government will establish to deepen and broaden the consensus about the way forward, and we expect that the UN will also be represented in those meetings," she said.
The so-called "friends of Syria" will meet to discuss ways to help the Syrian opposition and stop the Assad's regime's violent crackdown, which has killed 9,000 people in a year of unrest, according to monitors.
In Vienna, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, a former ally of the Assad regime, said an international action plan is needed to stop the "human tragedy" in Syria, saying that repeating a common world message was not enough.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council demanded that Syria immediately implement Annan's peace plan.
It called for Assad to pull troops and heavy weapons out of protest cities, a daily two-hour humanitarian pause to hostilities, access to all areas affected by the fighting and a UN-supervised halt to all clashes.
Turkey broke its longtime alliance with the Damascus regime in November by urging Assad to quit, and, in addition to taking in around 17,000 refugees, the country has become the main haven for opposition groups and rebel fighters.
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