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Kerry Expects Syria to Participate in Peace Conference

  • VOA News

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during press conference in Cairo, Nov. 3, 2013.

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during press conference in Cairo, Nov. 3, 2013.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he expects Syria to take part in long-proposed peace talks despite comments from Syrian officials who say negotiations cannot take place if they require President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Kerry reiterated his position at a news conference on Tuesday in Warsaw, Poland, that there is no military solution for the Syrian crisis. He also said that he hopes the government lives up to its "already stated promise" to negotiate.

"I hope that the Syrian government and the Russians and Iranians and others who support the Syrian regime will make certain that the Syrian regime will live up to its obligation to come to Geneva to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria. And we, and others, have already indicated we are prepared to be there, and the opposition is," said Kerry.

Kerry said that the goal of the talks has always been for both sides to agree on a transitional government that has full executive authority and will allow the Syrian people to decide on their long-term future.

However, disagreements about the framework have led to repeated delays and no date has yet been set.

On Monday, Syria's state-run SANA news agency quoted Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi as saying the government will not take part in any peace talks that require President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Meanwhile, members of the Syrian opposition have insisted that negotiations cannot take place unless there is a clear plan for Assad's departure.

Also on Tuesday, the Security Council will hear its first update on the ongoing operation to destroy all of Syria's chemical weapons.

Dutch diplomat Sigrid Kaag, who is heading up the U.N. mission, is due to give a closed-door briefing days after inspectors declared that Syria has destroyed its capability to make any new chemical arms.

The Syrian government has until November 15 to present a plan for how it will destroy its existing stockpile of chemical weapons by the middle of next year.
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