Leon Panetta, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has spent the last five days in Ankara, Turkey, on a secret visit with high-ranking Turk officials to evaluate the crisis in Syria, according to Turkish newspaper, Sabah.
Sabah speculated that the CIA chief was reviewing options on implementing a regime change in Damascus and guaranteeing the safety of Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad and his family.
The paper reported that Panetta is rumored to have met with head of the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MIT), members of the government and officials from the General Staff.
The paper also reported that Panetta discussed the civil war in Libya, relations between Israel and Turkey, the war in Afghanistan and U.S. cooperation in fighting against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which seeks independence from Turkey.
Separately, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, is reportedly planning to send an envoy to Damascus in order to encourage Assad to implement more democratic reforms.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.