On August 11, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled from Africa to Istanbul, Turkey, where she met with senior government officials to coordinate on Syria. Secretary Clinton held detailed conversations with the senior Turkish leadership, including Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and a number of other key officials in the Turkish government. Secretary Clinton also had the chance to meet with Syrian activists.
During her visit, Secretary Clinton announced the United States is providing an additional $5.5 million in humanitarian assistance, which brings the total U.S. contribution for this crisis to nearly $82 million. This additional U.S. funding will help to provide lifesaving assistance to the more than 50,000 people who fled to camps in Turkey to escape the violence of the Syrian regime.
In a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister, Secretary Clinton said, “Since the Friends of Syrian People met over a month ago in Paris, the crisis has deepened significantly. As the opposition has gained strength, the regime has responded with brutal violence. Even many of the regime’s previous supporters are now distancing themselves and there have been a series of high-level defections.”
She continued, “Today we met to discuss what the United States and Turkey can do together, along with our international partners and our friends inside and outside of Syria, to respond to this growing humanitarian and political crisis.”
Secretary Clinton and the senior Turkish leadership outlined three urgent priorities. Secretary Clinton said, “First, supporting the opposition and their efforts to end the violence and begin the transition to a free and democratic Syria without Assad. The United States continues to provide the opposition with communications equipment and other forms of non-lethal assistance and direct financial assistance. We are coordinating our efforts with others who are also providing various forms of support.
“Second, even as we seek to hasten Assad’s fall, we are also responding to the massive emergency humanitarian crisis that he has caused. United Nations estimates that approximately two million people inside Syria need assistance, and more than 140,000 others have fled to Syria’s neighbors.”
Secretary Clinton continued, “Our third urgent task is to prepare for what comes next. The Syrian people will, of course, and must leave the transition, and they will need to maintain the integrity of the state’s political institutions. They will need to stabilize and eventually rebuild their economy to establish security, safeguard, and eventually destroy the country’s most dangerous weapons, including its chemical weapons. They will need to protect the rights of all Syrians, regardless of religion, gender, or ethnicity. And they will need to address the ongoing human and humanitarian challenges. All of this will need careful planning and support from the international community.”
You can read more about Secretary Clinton’s travel to Turkey here.