(WASHINGTON) — After her meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Monday afternoon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — not surprisingly — told reporters that Syria was “at the top of our list of important matters to discuss today.”
“It is deplorable that the regime has escalated violence in cities across the country, including using artillery and tank fire against innocent civilians,” Clinton said.
Sec. Clinton spoke Monday about the call to action put forward by the U.S. and Turkey for the Syrian regime end the violence in that country immediately.
“We stand with the Syrian people and we are looking for a peaceful resolution. The U.S. and Turkey have again called on the regime to heed the Arab League’s latest efforts as wells as the international community 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 respectful serious dialogue with the opposition,” Sec. Clinton said.
She said the U.S. strongly supports the Arab League plan to end the violence in Syria and that leading up to the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia next week the U.S. will work with partners on diplomatic efforts, to strengthen sanctions and increase outreach to opposition groups inside and outside Syria.
“We have heard the call of the Syrian people for help,” Clinton said, “and are working to increase assistance to groups like the Red Crescent and the ICRC that are operating inside Syria.”
As for the Arab League’s new call for peacekeepers, Clinton said it presented challenges given that it will take a lot of consensus and, most importantly, Syrian support. “We don’t think it will be possible with Syria,” she said. She criticized the Assad regime for “leading Syria to an outcome we all deplore…no one wants to see a civil war in Syria.”
On Iran, Davutoglu repeated what he said Friday that he got the sense on a recent trip to Tehran that Iran is willing to negotiate. Clinton replied that the U.S. remains on the dual track with Iran, but that “we are ready to sit down and discuss” with them in “a purposeful way” if Iran meets American pre-conditions.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Steve Almasy, CNN
Euan McKirdy, Bryony Jones and Barry Neild, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Ralph Ellis and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN