Turkey presses Syria to end crackdown

BEIRUT (AP) — President Bashar Assad discussed “concrete steps” to end the violent crackdown on protesters during six hours of talks Tuesday with Turkey’s foreign minister, even as the Syrian military unleashed a fresh assault on dissent that activists said killed more than 20 people.

Speaking to reporters on his return to Turkey, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the talks were cordial but did not say what specific steps they had discussed or whether Assad had agreed to consider them.

“We discussed ways to prevent confrontation between the army and the people and tensions like those in Hama in the most open and clear way,” Davutoglu said, referring to the Syrian city that has become a flashpoint in the 5-month-old uprising against Assad’s autocratic rule.

“The coming days will be important to see if the expectations are being met. We hope that internal peace and calm is achieved and steps for reform are taken,” Davutoglu added.

The Syrian regime has shown no signs of scaling back its crackdown despite increasing diplomatic isolation. Envoys from India, Brazil and South Africa were expected to meet with Syrian officials in Damascus on Wednesday, part of a broad diplomatic push to stop the killings.

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