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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-27

US Secretary of State John Kerry met with French President François Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday in Paris. Their talks focused on the crisis in Mali and increasing support for the Syrian opposition.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that the US and France were trying to hasten the political transition in war-torn Syria, which would be discussed at a meeting in Rome later this week.

“We are examining ways to accelerate the political transition,” Kerry said, addressing a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris.

Kerry did not specify whether or not Washington was planning to offer additional aid, though The Washington Post reported this week that the Obama administration was mulling a shift in policy, and could provide vetted rebels with body armour, vehicles, and training.

“[Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] needs to know he cannot shoot his way out of this, so we need to convince him of that and I think the opposition needs more help in order to be able to do that,” Kerry told reporters. “And we are working together to have a united position.”

Kerry, who has deep family ties in France, is in Paris as part of an 11-day trip around Europe and the Middle East that is his first official outing as secretary of state.

He even began his statements at the press conference in French, before switching to English.

'Together, France and the US can make things happen'

FRANCE 24 International Affairs Editor Virginie Herz called his approach “a strategy of seduction of France”, and noted that Kerry made cultural and historic references to France, citing Voltaire and Rousseau.

Fabius, meanwhile, heaped praise on his US counterpart, calling him a “well-known friend of France” and thanking him in particular for US support of France’s intervention in Mali.

There have been tensions between Washington and Paris over Mali, with French officials reportedly voicing initial frustration with what they saw as foot-dragging by the US on providing logistical support to their intervention.

But any tensions seem to have since subsided, as Washington has already given $96 million (73 million euros) to help train the African force, which may evolve into a UN peacekeeping mission.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-02-27


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