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French, Turkish Foreign Ministers Discuss Syria

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius shake hands after a news conference in Ankara August 17, 2012.
ISTANBUL — French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has met with his Turkish counterpart to discuss the deepening crisis in Syria. France and Turkey are among the staunchest supporters of the Syrian opposition.

In a press conference in Ankara, visiting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, both condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on dissent. Davutoglu described the Syrian forces' efforts to retake control of the city of Aleppo as a crime against humanity.

Earlier in the day, Fabius called for the Assad regime to be ended as he visited Turkey's largest refugee camp near the border.

"The Syrian regime should be smashed fast. After hearing the refugees and their account of the massacres of the regime, Mr. Bashar al-Assad doesn't deserve to be on this earth," said Fabius.

Fabius welcomed Ankara's support for refugees, with more than 66,000 currently seeking shelter in Turkey. In the past day, nearly 2,000 more Syrians refugees have crossed the Turkish border.

Davutoglu welcomed France's initiative to hold a foreign ministers-level meeting on the crisis in Syria on August 30. The Turkish foreign minister also cautiously welcomed the appointment of the new international mediator on Syria, Algerian statesman Lakhdar Brahimi.

Davutoglu said the appointment is significant, but that Brahimi will succeed only if the United Nations Security Council puts its support behind him.

The former U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, resigned from the post, blaming a lack of unity in the Security Council.

The Turkish and French foreign ministers also discussed the consequences of the deepening crisis in Syria on the region. They also talked about Ankara's call for the international community to share the financial burden of providing shelter for Syrian refugees.

Davutoglu confirmed that a second Turkish citizen has been kidnapped in Lebanon by forces believed to be sympathetic to Damascus. Turkey has issued a travel advisory warning citizens not to travel to Lebanon.

The French foreign minister's visit to Ankara is part of a tour that included Lebanon and Jordan.

The visit occurred as the United Nations' observer mission in Syria prepares to withdraw from that country. The mandate ends Sunday, but the Council says it hopes to establish a political office in the battle-ravaged country.