Obama meets with Qatar emir to discuss Syria crisis

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama met with Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani at the White House on Tuesday amid a flurry of meetings with regional leaders on Syria's increasingly bloody stalemate.

"Obviously we've been cooperating closely with Qatar and other countries in seeking to bring about an end to the slaughter that's taking place there (and) the removal of president (Bashar al-Assad)," Obama told reporters.

Obama said they also hope to "strengthen an opposition that can bring about a democratic Syria that represents all people and respects their rights regardless of their ethnicity or their religious affiliation."

"We're going to be continuing to work in the coming months to try to further support the Syrian opposition, and we'll be closely coordinating our strategies to bring about a more peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis," Obama added.

The sheikh in turn said through a translator that his country hoped "to find a solution for the bloodshed in Syria, for this current government to leave power, to give room to others to take over.

"We hope that any party that succeeds... will be supportive of democracy," he added.

Natural gas-rich Qatar has been a strong supporter of Syrian rebels hoping to overthrow the Assad regime.

Earlier, the head of research and analysis in the Israeli army's military intelligence division said Assad had resorted to using chemical weapons, likely sarin, against rebel fighters.

The United States has not yet concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has used chemical weapons against rebel forces, but backs a probe into the matter, the White House said Tuesday.

Obama has said that Syria's use of chemical weapons, or any attempt to transfer them to militant groups, would be a "red line," hinting that it could prompt a US military intervention in the two-year-old uprising.

Obama will meet on Friday with Jordan's King Abdullah II, part of a string of meetings with regional leaders in recent days.

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