Clinton to Discuss Syria, Counterrorism At Turkey Forum

Posted June 6th, 2012 at 4:35 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in Istanbul, Turkey, where she will take part in an international forum on counterterrorism.

Close to 30 countries are currently participating in the forum.

During the two-day event that starts Thursday, Secretary Clinton will also discuss the situation in Syria with counterparts from the region as well as from Britain and Italy.

She told reporters Wednesday that the talks are meant to coordinate new sanctions against the government in Damascus and how best to begin a political transition to remove President Bashar al-Assad.

“We will look for additional measures that we can take to pressure (President) Assad and alleviate suffering. And we will also discuss this evening the essential elements of a democratic transition strategy.”

Turkey has urged the international community to help stop the government's massacre of civilians in Syria.

But China and Russia firmly oppose any intervention or regime change in Damascus. Clinton has expressed reservations about Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's proposal to include Iran in discussions on Syria.

Clinton arrived in Istanbul Wednesday from Azerbaijan, where she warned the government against suppressing democratic freedoms and urged continued peace efforts with arch rival Armenia.

At the June 7-8 forum in Istanbul, Turkey is also expected to raise the issue of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and call for international cooperation in its effort to contain its terrorist activities.

PKK rebels have been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey for nearly three decades. The conflict has claimed more than 40,000 lives.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist group.