Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned the Syrian government Wednesday that U.N. sanctions may be near as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Turkey.
While there, Clinton will discuss strategy with America's allies and look for a way to win Russia's support for a transition plan to end Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
During an address to a Friends of Syria group, Geithner called for the world to exert "maximum financial pressure" on Syria.
"We, the United States, hope that all responsible countries will soon join in taking appropriate economic actions against the Syrian regime, including, if necessary, Chapter 7 action in the UN Security Council, as called for by the Arab League last weekend," he said.
Despite widespread international condemnation of its actions, Syria's government has survived a combination of brutal repression and the political backing of Moscow.
Russia and China responded in a statement confirming again their opposition to international intervention to impose regime change. In the past, the two countries have twice blocked U.N. condemnations and punitive actions against Syria.
Nearly 13,000 people have died in more than a year of uprising against Syria's president.
Treasury officials said the U.S. wants U.N. action to avoid military intervention in Syria by issuing global sanctions.