Turkey is considering imposing sanctions against Syria for its brutal crackdown on the country’s uprising and is coordinating its efforts with the United States, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying Wednesday.
Erdogan also told Turkish journalists after talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in New York late Tuesday, that he was no longer in contact with Syria’s leadership.
“I have cut all contacts with the Syrian administration,” the state-run Anatolia quoted Erdogan as saying. “We never wanted things to arrive at this point, but unfortunately, the Syrian administration has forced us to take such a decision.”
Turkey is Syria’s neighbor and an important trade partner and Erdogan had cultivated a close friendship with President Bashir Assad. But Turkish leaders have grown increasingly frustrated with Damascus over its refusal to halt the crackdown on opposition protesters and to carry our reforms.
Earlier this month, Turkey hosted a group of Syrian opposition figures who declared a 140-member Syrian National Council in an effort to present a united front against President Bashir Assad. Some 7,500 Syrians are seeking refuge from the violence in six camps in Turkey, near the border.
Erdogan did not say what measures Turkey was considering taking. He said, however, the Turkish Foreign Ministry would work with the U.S. State Department to determine possible Turkish sanctions.
The United States “already has sanctions against Syria,” Erdogan said. “Our foreign ministries will jointly review what our sanctions might be.”
Washington, which has called on Assad to resign, has imposed sanctions on some Syrian officials, blocked assets they may have in the United States and banned any U.S. import of Syrian oil or petroleum products.