Clinton to go abroad to push Syria diplomacy

By BRADLEY KLAPPER | March 26, 2012 | 4:18 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is traveling abroad this week for two international conferences focused on Syria.

Clinton will be in Saudi Arabia's capital of Riyadh Friday and Saturday. There, she'll meet with Saudi King Abdullah and participate in an event dedicated to the "strategic cooperation" between the U.S. and Gulf Arab states.

Clinton then travels to Istanbul for Sunday's 60-nation "Friends of the Syrian People" conference.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Clinton's efforts at both gatherings will focus on ending Syria's bloodshed.

Nuland said nations are looking at how to advance a democratic transition in Syria.

Washington and many of its allies say Syrian President Bashar Assad has lost all legitimacy in a year of cracking down on political opponents. They say Assad must step down.