US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government on Monday for stonewalling peace talks, and pressed Russia to stop supplying it with weapons, telling Moscow it needed to be part of the solution.
“The regime stonewalled. They did nothing except continue to drop barrel bombs on their own people and continue to destroy their own country. And I regret to say they are doing so with increased support from Iran, from Hezbollah and from Russia,” Kerry told reporters in Jakarta on Monday during a trip to Asia and the Middle East.
He said that Syrian government delegates had to discuss a possible political transition.
“It is very clear that Bashar al-Assad is trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table in good faith,” Kerry said.
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi closed a second round of talks in Geneva over the weekend, apologising for how little progress had been made. Both sides have agreed to a third round of negotiations at a yet unspecified date.
Using unusually strong language, Kerry also heaped pressure on Russia – a close Syrian government ally – over its role in the talks.
“They are in effect enabling Assad to double-down, which is creating an enormous problem,” he said.
Russia has said the peace talks must not focus only on a transitional governing body, and has accused backers of the Syrian opposition of pushing for “regime change”.
US President Barack Obama said on Friday he was considering new ways to pressure the Assad government, but gave no details.
The three-year Syrian conflict has killed more than 130,000 people and displaced millions others.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-02-17