Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Obama and Erdogan demand Assad step down

17 May 2013, 08:01

Washington - US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted on Thursday that Bashar Assad must step down amid a flurry of moves to organise peace talks to end Syria's bloody civil war.

The two met in Washington as efforts to bring the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition together at an international conference next month gathered pace.

At a joint White House news conference, the Turkish and US leaders restated their position, but Obama admitted: "There is no magic formula for dealing with an extraordinarily violent and difficult situation like Syria's."

World leaders have been beating a path to Moscow's door in recent days, amid hopes that Russia can sway the Assad regime to come to negotiations, and end the killing which rights activists say has claimed some 94 000 lives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday as French President Francois Hollande said greater efforts were needed to convince Moscow to drop its support for Assad.

"We must have a frank discussion with Russia to convince it that it is in its interests, in the interests of the region, in the interests of peace, to finish with Bashar Assad," Hollande said.

Frustration in Turkey

Jordan, meanwhile, announced it would host next week the "Friends of Syria" group, bringing together foreign ministers from 11 key countries including Egypt, Qatar, the United States, Britain, France, Turkey and Germany.

Top political directors from the US, Britain and France also held low-key talks in Washington on Thursday to prepare for the planned peace conference.

Even as Obama and Erdogan were meeting, Israeli officials told AFP that John Brennan, director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, had also arrived in Israel for talks on the Syrian crisis.

Obama has made strenuous efforts to court the Turkish leader but there are signs of frustration in Ankara, which is struggling under a tide of Syrian refugees, at Obama's cautious approach on Syria.

The president has balked at providing arms and ammunition to the guerrillas, fearing they could fall into the hands of extremist elements linked to al-Qaeda.

After meeting Erdogan, Obama gave no sign his position has changed.

"We both agree that Assad needs to go. He needs to transfer power to a transitional body," he said. "That is the only way we're going to resolve this crisis."

Peace conference

Earlier a Turkish official told AFP Erdogan would push for direct US military aid for the rebels.

"Everyone in the international community is very much concerned, worried about the radical elements," he said.

"We are of course concerned more than anyone else, being a neighbour of Syria - but the way to deal with that problem is not withholding your support. Not doing anything is not a solution."

Obama has said Washington has a moral and national security incentive to stop the killing, but has demanded more evidence to stand up reports that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons, crossing a US red line.

Turkey also seems sceptical that the peace conference Washington is planning with Assad's main ally Moscow will lead to a roadmap to a political transition.

"We have to be... realistic and very careful as to not turn this into an open-ended process which would give the opportunity to the regime to gain time and to continue its campaign of violence," the official said.

Golan abductions

Despite their joint peace push call, a vote on Wednesday at the United Nations underscored the lingering divide between Washington and Moscow.

Russia voted against a motion before the UN General Assembly to condemn what Arab and Western powers denounced as Assad's "escalation" in attacks on civilians.

The vote passed despite Russian anger, but the number of states backing the motion was only 107, down from 133 when a similar vote was held in August.

In another sign of the tensions, attackers briefly abducted three UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, a top UN official said on Thursday.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said the three unarmed UNTSO observers "were taken and held for approximately five hours and were released unharmed." He did not give their nationalities, but at least one was said by New Zealand media to come from their country.

It was the third abduction of UN forces in the Golan zone in two months.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...