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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sketches out path for Syria. Read more ...

Last modified: 8 Jun 2012 18:28

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Western and Arab nations at a meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday that a transition strategy in Syria must include President Bashar al-Assad's full transfer of power, a senior US State Department official said.

"Tonight the secretary laid out a set of essential elements and principles which we believe should guide that post-Assad transition strategy, including Assad's full transfer of power," the official told reporters after the meeting.

Clinton also told the meeting that transition in Syria must include a fully representative interim government that would lead to free and fair elections.

She was speaking at a high-level meeting on Syria attended by British Foreign Minister William Hague, Turkish Foreign
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as well as other foreign ministers and high-level envoys from 15 countries and the European Union.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the US official suggested that Clinton was trying to lay down a set of minimum
benchmarks for how a transition in Syria could unfold in the hopes Russia might back it despite its past support for Assad.

The official said Clinton had also decided to send Fred Hof, a senior State Department official who works on Syria, to Moscow on Thursday to hold follow-up conversations with Russia.

The official sidestepped a question on whether Russia was willing to increase pressure on Assad to go, saying one reason for sending Hof to Moscow is "to get a sense of how close we are". [Reuters]