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Western powers talk on ending Assad regime: US

US held talks with other Western countries on to increase their support to the Syrian opposition to hasten the end of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's embattled regime

AFP , Tuesday 14 Aug 2012
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Western foreign ministers to coordinate ways to hasten the end of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's embattled regime, her spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Clinton, following up on weekend talks in Turkey, held a conference call for more than an hour Monday with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

They discussed "support for the opposition in hastening the day when the Assad regime falls," along with care for refugees and planning for a post-Assad Syria, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

"The conversation very much focused on ensuring that we are all pulling in the same direction, that we're all sharing information, that we are thinking about the division of labor," Nuland told reporters.

Clinton, speaking Saturday in Istanbul, said that the "number one goal" of the United States and Turkey was to help bring down the regime and halt the violence that has gripped the country for 17 months.

The uprising and the government's brutal crackdown have claimed at least 23,000 lives since March 2011, according to activists.

The United States has said that it is coordinating with the opposition and offering non-lethal assistance but it has little desire to use military force against Assad, who enjoys diplomatic support from Russia.

The United States has been increasing economic pressure and on Monday the White House said it has not ruled out any option to help bring about the departure of Assad, amid renewed speculation about a possible no-fly zone.

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