US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted that President Bashar al-Assad must step down amid a flurry of moves to organise peace talks to end Syria's bloody civil war.
The two met in Washington on Thursday as efforts to bring the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition together at an international conference next month gathered pace. At a joint White House news conference, the two leaders restated their position, but Obama said: "There is no magic formula for dealing with an extraordinarily violent and difficult situation like Syria's."
Russian President Vladimir Putin was to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday as French President Francois Hollande said greater efforts were needed to convince Moscow to drop its support for Assad.
"We must have a frank discussion with Russia to convince it that it is in its interests, in the interests of the region, in the interests of peace, to finish with Bashar al-Assad," Hollande said.
Jordan announced it would host next week the "Friends of Syria" group, bringing together foreign ministers from 11 key countries including Egypt, Qatar, the United States, Britain, France, Turkey and Germany.
Obama has made strenuous efforts to court the Turkish leader but there are signs of frustration in Ankara at Obama's cautious approach on Syria.