News / Middle East

Obama, Erdogan Downplay Syria Differences

President Barack Obama (right) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at joint news conference May 16, 2013
President Barack Obama (right) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at joint news conference May 16, 2013
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— President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan say the U.S. and Turkey are determined to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leave to pave the way for a political transition.
 
In a news conference following bilateral talks, both leaders downplayed differences over Syria, underscoring the importance of maintaining pressure on the Assad regime while sustaining Syria's opposition.
 
President Obama recognized Erdogan for being "at the forefront" of efforts to achieve a democratic Syria, and said Turkey will play a key role in coming weeks.
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"We both agree that Assad needs to go," the president said. "He needs to transfer to a transitional body. That is the only way that we are going to resolve this crisis. We are going to keep working for a Syria that is free from Assad's tyranny, that is intact and inclusive of all ethnic and religious groups and that is the source of stability not extremism, because it is in the profound interests of all our nations, especially Turkey."
 
Prime Minister Erdogan said Turkish and U.S. views "overlap" on Syria, pointing to "full agreement" on the need to end bloodshed and establish a new government, describing key objectives as the departure of Assad, preventing Syria from becoming a base for terrorists, and preventing use of chemical weapons.

Related video report by Kent Klein
Obama, Erdogan: Assad Needs To Goi
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May 17, 2013
President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are playing down their disagreements over how to address the ongoing violence in Syria. As VOA’s Kent Klein reports, the two leaders spoke to reporters Thursday after meeting at the White House.
Erdogan then fielded a question about what impact there would be on the Syrian civil war if the U.S. does not step up its involvement.
 
"You are talking about the part of the glass which is empty," he said. "I would like to look at things with the glass half full, instead of half empty. What we would like to see is the sensitivity on the part of the international community with respect to what is going on in Syria. This is what we as Turkey strive for and I do believe the United States is doing the same."
 
When asked if he had presented evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria, he said information has been shared with all countries and the United Nations.
 
President Obama had this response when asked about his "red line" on the use of chemical weapons.
 
"The use of chemical weapons is something that the civilized world has recognized should be out of bounds," Obama said. "As we gather more evidence and work together, my intention is to make sure that we are presenting everything that we know to the international community as an additional reason and an additional mechanism for the international community to put all the pressure they can on the Assad regime."
 
Obama said he preserves the option to take additional steps, both diplomatic and military, saying chemical weapons threaten U.S. security and that of its allies and friends.
 
Thursday's Obama-Erdogan meeting also covered Turkish-Israeli talks to normalize their relations. Erdogan said he plans to visit Gaza and the West Bank in June, describing his upcoming trip as something that will help Palestinian unity.
 
On the topic of Israel-Palestinian peace efforts, and Iran, Obama said both world leaders agreed it is critical that Iran not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon and potentially trigger a regional arms race.

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Comments page of 2
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by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 16, 2013 1:48 PM
Giving support to an opposition that has clearly shown itself as man-eater is suicidal and shameful. Various voices of reason have questioned the rationale behind blind support to an opposition that is terrorist in outlook, yet Obama and Erdogan continue to tout support for the removal of Assad despite glaring disappointment of previous Arab Springs in Egypt and Libya. Agreed the removal of Assad will remove the reach of the shiite arm of Iran and Hezbollah from the region, but is there no better goals to achieve in the area if Assad is allowed to transit the regime to a better democratic one devoid of the institutionalizing of barbarism by the opposition that is simply going to entrench deeper rooted terrorism in the region? The present make up of the Syrian opposition can only breed nothing but more ravenous and barbaric regime to which the oppressive/suppressive regimes in Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah will be a child's play.


by: Steve from: USA
May 16, 2013 1:37 PM
Obama vows. That's funny.

Is this like his "red line" promise?

In Response

by: charlie from: California
May 16, 2013 2:48 PM
No, Steve you are funny. That sarin gas, after reading all the news and not just Netanyau and his fellow travelors in the West, looks like it may have been dropped by one of the many dissimilar rebel groups. Israel has decided to bust up Iran-Syria, after at first being worried about the consequences of bringing an unknown entity to power in Damascus. They are lying about the gas And may end up with someone who eats human hearts running Syria. Good luck with that Middle Eastern Idi Amin.

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