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    across the universe Olm the Water King's Avatar
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    Default Syria conflict: We have to talk to Assad, says Kerry

    BBC News - Syria conflict: We have to talk to Assad, says Kerry

    Syria conflict: We have to talk to Assad, says Kerry

    The international community will "have to negotiate in the end" with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said.

    Speaking on the fourth anniversary of the civil war, Mr Kerry said the conflict was "one of the worst tragedies any of us have seen".

    He said the US was pushing President Assad to begin negotiations again after two previous rounds of talks collapsed.

    More than 215,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the conflict.

    The US was working hard to "re-ignite" efforts to find a political solution to end the war, Mr Kerry said in an interview in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

    'No military solution'

    He told CBS News the US was working with the moderate opposition in Syria as well as pursuing a diplomatic track with "a number of different critical players in this tragedy".

    "Everybody agrees there is no military solution; there's only a political solution," he said.

    The US has "always been willing to negotiate in the context of the Geneva I process," he added, referring to a 2012 plan to end the conflict that included forming a transitional governing body and holding free and fair elections in Syria.

    The White House has in the past insisted that Mr Assad stand down as part of a political settlement.

    Analysis: Jonathan Marcus, BBC diplomatic correspondent

    Mr Kerry's comments are the clearest indication yet that Washington is coming to terms with the reality that its Syria policy is going nowhere.

    Frequent declarations that President Assad is "part of the problem and needs to go" are all very well, but there is simply no sign of him being toppled.

    Indeed the rise of a new actor in Syria - the Islamic State organisation - leads many experts to believe that if Mr Assad were to be swept away, then the main beneficiary would be the jihadists of IS. Syria might descend into even greater chaos and bloodshed, if that is imaginable.

    Mr Kerry's reference to the Geneva I process of 2012 is instructive. This was seen by many as ruling out any future role for Mr Assad but equally - at the urging of his Russian allies - it did not explicitly call for him to leave Syrian politics. That was to be decided by the Syrian people.

    Mr Kerry has been a leading player in international efforts to kick-start peace talks, bringing representatives from the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition together in Geneva for the first time early last year - but the negotiations collapsed after two rounds.

    "To get the Assad regime to negotiate, we're going to have to make it clear to him that there is a determination by everybody to seek that political outcome and change his calculation about negotiating," Mr Kerry said.

    "That's under way right now. And I am convinced that, with the efforts of our allies and others, there will be increased pressure on Assad."

    The civil war in Syria, which is now entering its fifth year, began after President Assad's forces launched a deadly crackdown on a peaceful uprising against four decades of his family's rule.

    The country has since been carved up by government forces, the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Kurdish fighters and the remaining rebel groups.

    A US-led coalition has been conducting air strikes against IS fighters in Syria since last summer. It has also sent troops to neighbouring countries to train Syrian rebels.

    On Friday, CIA Director John Brennan said the US had "legitimate concerns" about who might replace President Assad given the rise of IS.

    "None of us, Russia, the United States, coalition, and regional states, wants to see a collapse of the government and political institutions in Damascus," Mr Brennan said.

    He warned that IS and other "extremist elements" were "ascendant right now" in some parts of Syria, adding: "The last thing we want to do is allow them to march into Damascus."

  2. #2
    across the universe Olm the Water King's Avatar
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    Syria: Assad shuns Kerry ‘offer’ of negotiations to end civil war | euronews, world news

    Syria: Assad shuns Kerry ‘offer’ of negotiations to end civil war

    Bashar al-Assad has given a cool reception to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks that the Syrian leader should be included in talks to reach a political transition in the war-torn country.

    Speaking as he met an Iranian minister in the Syrian capital, Assad said such statements “from outside do not concern us”.

    He welcomed any international change in attitude to Syria’s situation as positive but
    said foreign countries should stop supporting terrorist groups, a term Damascus uses for insurgents fighting his regime.

    “Whether they say I remain or not, the Syrian people have the final say on this particular matter,” Assad said.

    With violence still raging four years after a popular uprising first started, Kerry broke with the standard US line on Sunday, raising the prospect of negotiations with Syria’s president.

    In an interview with US TV channel CBS, Kerry said: “We have to negotiate in the end,”
    when asked whether the United States would be willing to talk to the Syrian leader.

    His comments were later played down by the State Department.

    France reiterated on Monday that it was maintaining its opposition to talks with President
    Assad.

    Syria’s civil war has left more than 200,000 people dead and displaced about half the population.

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