Vice President Joe Biden has called on Turkey to impose new sanctions against Iran, while praising Ankara for its role in pressuring Syria to stop its bloody crackdown on protesters.
A top UN human right official warned Thursday that Syria has entered a state of civil war with more than 4,000 people dead and an increasing number of soldiers defecting from the army to fight President Bashar Assad's regime.
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Turkey announced a set of economic sanctions against Syria earlier this week, as Assad continues with his attempts to crush an 8-month-old revolt against his autocratic rule.
Biden told the Turkish daily Hurriyet: "We look forward to the broadening of international sanctions as a means to bring about change in Syria."
Biden also urged Ankara to adopt further sanctions against Iran, which the West suspects is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
On Friday, Biden met President Abdullah Gul and Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek but was not expected to meet Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is recovering from a surgery.
Biden also said that the United States "will continue to work with Turkey on pursuing shared interests in the Middle East and North Africa."
"We continue to support a diplomatic solution to our concerns with Iran," Biden said. "However, we also believe that putting pressure on Iran's leadership is necessary to secure a negotiated settlement and that is why we encourage our partners, including Turkey, to take steps to impose new sanctions on Iran."
Tehran threatens Turkey?
An Iranian general said Saturday that Tehran would target NATO's early warning radar in Turkey if the US or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic after an International Atomic Energy Agency report said for the first time that Tehran was suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose was the development of nuclear arms.
Ankara agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO's missile defense system, which is capable of countering ballistic missile threats from its neighbor, Iran. Turkey insists the shield doesn't target a specific country but Tehran says the radar is meant to protect Israel from Iranian missile attacks if a war breaks out with the Jewish state.
Biden was also expected to encourage Turkey to repair ties with its formerly close ally Israel. As a long-serving member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden cemented his reputation as an unyielding supporter of Israel, winning the respect of many in the Jewish community.
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