Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Istanbul, Turkey March 31-April 1 to attend the second meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People." This meeting built upon steps that our friends, allies, and the Syrian opposition continue to take in an attempt to halt the slaughter of the Syrian people and pursue a transition to democracy in Syria. During a press availability in Istanbul, Secretary Clinton said, "Today, the international community sent a clear and unified message that we will increase pressure on the Assad regime in Syria and assistance to the opposition. ...We called for an immediate end to the killing in Syria, and we urged the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan to set a timetable for next steps. The world will not waiver. Assad must go. And the Syrian people must be free to choose their own path forward."
Following a meeting with the Syrian National Council, Secretary Clinton said, "...People have been working very hard to try to figure out ways to help those inside Syria who are bearing the brunt of the brutality of the Assad regime. We are painfully aware of how brutal the actions by the regime have been. And the Syrian National Council has been working hard to organize different Syrians behind a unified approach because, until recently, it was hard to know how to help. There was not the kind of organized effort, and there was no place within Syria that the opposition controlled, which makes it very difficult to assist."
Secretary Clinton continued, "...I really believe that, with the announcements coming from the meeting today, there will be greater pressure on the regime, there will be more assistance of all kinds for the Syrian National Council, there will be more humanitarian assistance, that the people inside Syria should know they are not alone."
The United States is pursuing every avenue to get humanitarian relief into Syria and is engaged in focused diplomatic efforts to secure full and unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to reach those in need. The United States announced an additional $12.2 million in humanitarian assistance to support the people of Syria, bringing the total amount of U.S. emergency aid to nearly $25 million. This assistance is supporting international and non-governmental humanitarian partners, including the World Food Program (WFP); the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); and to non-governmental organizations (NGO).
While in Istanbul, Secretary Clinton also conducted bilateral meetings with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and other foreign leaders. Secretary Clinton said:
"... I want to thank Prime Minister Erdogan and the foreign minister, my friend, and the people of Turkey, not only for hosting us, but for being such strong stalwarts in the fight on behalf of the Syrian people. I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet both with the prime minister and the foreign minister. We not only discussed Syria; we discussed the full range of our other shared interests. And I commended Turkey's leadership throughout this crisis and its generosity to the Syrians who have fled across the border seeking refuge from the violence."
You can follow Secretary Clinton's travel on www.state.gov.