Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday for contingency plans with allies, in the event that the embattled Syrian regime with President Bashar al-Assad collapses.
Clinton’s statement in Istanbul has come after 17 months of escalating conflict that has killed more than 17,000 people and forced out 150,000 refugees to neighboring countries, reports CNN. Clinton said after talks with her Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that:
“There is a very clear understanding about the need to end this conflict quickly, but not doing it in a way that produces even more deaths, injuries and destruction.”
The US Secretary of State announced Saturday that the US and Turkey will set up a working group that will coordinate the two countries’ response to the Syrian crisis going forward. Hillary Clinton stated:
“We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning. And it needs to be across both of our governments. Certainly our two ministries are coordinating much of it, but our intelligence services, our military, have very important responsibilities and roles to play.”
WKBT notes that Turkey has been calling for more US support in the Syrian crisis, and a senior Turkish government official commented:
“We would like to see more support from the U.S. on Syria. Sometimes we feel very much alone.”
In their talks, the Secretary of State highlighted three major problems that are concerns for the US, including massive displacement and migration of affected Syrians, preventing chaos in a power vacuum and checking the threat of chemical weapons. She added that:
“Our goal, No. 1, is to hasten the end of the bloodshed and the Assad regime. That is our strategic goal, and we have to analyze everything against that goal.”
While she was in Turkey, Hillary Clinton also met with opposition activists who, according to the Secretary of State, are committed to a pluralistic, democratic, and inclusive society.