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Obama, Erdogan Agree To 'Increase Pressure' On Syrian Regime

September 21, 2011

The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to "increase pressure" on the Syrian regime to end the violence against antigovernment protesters.

The U.S. and Turkish leaders discussed Syria in a meeting on September 20 on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly in New York.

The United States has previously called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, while the Turkish government under Erdogan has also taken a hard line, demanding that Damascus halt the killing of protesters.

UN officials have estimated that pro-Assad forces have killed some 2,700 people since the uprising against the regime started in March, including at least 100 children.

Speaking separately in New York, the foreign minister of Syria's neighbor Iraq said a change of regime in Syria appears inevitable.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, said evidence suggests that Syria is the next chapter in the "Arab Spring" protests that have so far led to the ouster of authoritarian rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

"Change in Syria also, actually, from all the evidence we see, is bound to happen," Zebari said. "How -- this is entirely up to the Syrian people. I think it will be extremely difficult to stop this grassroots movement of the people."

Zebari, however, cautioned that the situation in Syria is different from the situations in Libya or Egypt. The security apparatus and military in Syria, he said, are still very strong, while the opposition seems fractured.

with agency reports

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/united_states_turkey_pressure_on_syria/24335058.html

Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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