CIA chief holds closed-door meeting on Syria with Turkish prime minister

Top U.S. officials are reaching out to American allies in the Mideast to get a better read on the escalating crisis in Syria.

CIA chief David Petraeus on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss the violent crackdown by Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad on anti-government forces, according to Agence France-Presse. 

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U.S. embassy spokesman T.J. Grubisha said Petraeus met with Erdoğan and Turkish National Intelligence Organization chief Hakan Fidan and "discussed areas of mutual concern, including regional security issues and counter-terrorism cooperation."

"They foresee even closer and more fruitful cooperation on the region's most pressing issues in the coming months," Grubisha told AFP. 

Turkey is one of America's closest allies in the Middle East. The Incirlik Air Base in Turkey has been a key supply point for troops, weapons and supplies headed to U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. 

The talks, which were left off Erdoğan's official schedule, also touched on the growing furor over Iran's nuclear program and ways to curb Kurdish rebel forces from staging cross-border attacks into northern Iraq from Turkey. Ankara declined to comment on details of the talks. 

Petraeus's visit comes as the debate continues to rage on Capitol Hill over how the United States should respond to the bloody uprising in Syria. 

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) have called for airstrikes and arms shipments to the Syrian rebels. “The ultimate goal of air strikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in Syria, especially in the north, in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad,” McCain said during a March 5 speech on the Senate floor. 

But Democratic and Republican lawmakers remain split on whether the United States should intervene militarily. 

The White House and Pentagon have been reluctant take action, arguing that U.S. arms and supplies handed over to the Syrian rebels could make their way into the hands of al Qaeda.