Turkish President Abdullah Gul 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
UNITED NATIONS - Turkey and Jordan called on Tuesday for a more robust international effort to end Syria's civil war, saying the global community had a responsibility not to abandon the Syrian people.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Jordan's King Abdullah made the remarks while addressing the UN General Assembly in New York. Gul said the international community was responsible for ending the conflict, which has killed more than 100,000 people, according to UN estimates.
Turkey, once an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad but now one of his fiercest critics as he fights rebels trying to oust him, called for UN Security Council action last month after a deadly chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
"This conflict has evolved into a real threat to regional peace and security," Gul said. "Any recurrence of the proxy wars of the Cold-War era will plunge Syria into further chaos."
Gul said Turkey welcomed a U.S.-Russian agreement to remove Syria's chemical weapons arsenal but said the world must not allow Assad's government to "avoid responsibility for its other crimes."
"This conflict neither began with the use of chemical weapons, nor will it end with an agreement to eliminate them," Gul said.
Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama urged the United Nations to back tough consequences for Syria if it refuses to give up chemical weapons and appealed to Russia and Iran to drop their backing of Assad.
He criticized what he called "balance-of-power politics" that had helped to prolong the war, and called for a strategy led by world powers and Syria's neighbors to end the civil war.
"In short, we cannot and shall not leave the Syrian people to their fate," he said. "The burden of ending Syria's plight now rests on the shoulders of the international community. Strong words of support must now be matched by real deeds."
Abdullah called on the international community to "fast-track" a political transition in Syria and to show more support for Syrian refugees.
"The world has the duty, the interest and the power to help. And help must be soon. The damage and dangers are mounting," he said, referring to the increasing flow of Syrian refugees into Jordan, which now represent one-tenth of its population.
Abdullah said the Syrian refugees in Jordan could rise to 1 million by next year, 20 percent of its population, and called for additional international support as the economic burdens weigh on the state.
"These are not just numbers," he said. "They are people, who need food, water, shelter, sanitation, electricity, health care and more. Not even the strongest global economies could absorb this demand on infrastructure and resources, let alone a small economy and the fourth water-poorest country in the world.
"My people cannot be asked to shoulder the burden of what is a regional and global challenge," he said. "More support is urgently needed to send a strong signal that the world community stands shoulder-to-shoulder with those who have borne so much."
Abdullah also called for a speedy resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. "Let there be no action that can derail what is still a fragile process," he said.