Turkey Summit Promises Clash Over Syria

March 31, 2012

By JOE PARKINSON And NOUR MALAS, The Wall Street Journal

ISTANBUL—Turkey on Friday cautioned against accepting “new promises” from President Bashar al-Assad and called for tougher international action to protect Syrian civilians, ahead of a 60-nation meeting in Istanbul that promises to air two clashing international visions on how to end the country’s conflict.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the latest international diplomatic proposal to stanch Syria’s bloody crisis—a six-point plan presented by veteran diplomat Kofi Annan—is a “step forward.”

“Annan’s initiative is a beginning, not an endgame,” Mr. Davutoglu said in an interview Friday. “We hope the Annan mission will be successful. But if it isn’t, there should be concrete measures.”

Mr. Davutoglu’s comments came as officials from 60 countries began to arrive in Istanbul for a gathering of the Friends of the Syrian People, a group formed to address the Syria crisis outside the framework of the United Nations. The international community is facing two rival pushes on Syria—one that makes Mr. Assad a party to a diplomatic solution, and another that would remove him.

The Annan plan departs from previous international plans—including one floated in February, at the last Friends meeting—that have pressed for Mr. Assad’s ouster. It calls instead for a negotiated solution that might keep him in power for some time, and has broad international backing.

But Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries, maintaining that the U.N.-backed diplomacy will ultimately prove futile, have called for arming Syria’s rebels. Saudi Arabia has pressed Jordan to allow weapons to flow through that country to Syrian rebels, according to officials from both countries, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

To read more, visit: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304177104577313972003361342.html

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