Obama Admin. clarifies Kerry comments on Syria, says Assad must go
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama Administration on Monday attempted to play down Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks that suggest the US would be ready to negotiate with the Assad regime in Syria.
Asked by a reporter for CBS if the US “would be willing to negotiate” with Assad toward a peace deal in Syria, Kerry replied, “Well, we have to negotiate in the end.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Kerry “was referring to Assad as essentially a proxy for the regime; he did not envision the scenario where Assad would himself participate in those conversations.” He added that Kerry “does believe that it’s appropriate for representatives of the regime to sit down with members of the moderate Syrian opposition to try to make some negotiated decisions about the political transition in Syria.” The Syrian opposition has long maintained that Assad cannot be a part of peace talks and must step down.
“I think it’s also important to remember … unfortunately there’s no process that’s ongoing right now. So we’re purely talking about how it would work potentially if there were to be a process in place,” she noted.
“There are partners we talk to like Russia, who have talks with the Syrians, and certainly when we discuss ways to move back toward the political process we certainly expect that they would engage with the Syrians, but there’s no process underway. There’s no process that’s about to start,” she added.
“We continue to believe … that there’s no future for Assad in Syria,” Psaki affirmed.