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Kerry to Meet with ‘Dissent Channel’ Authors

  • Pamela Dockins

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attends the "Supporting Syria and the Region" conference in London, Feb. 4, 2016. Kerry plans to meet with State Department employees who submitted a cable calling for a more muscular U.S. Syria policy.

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attends the "Supporting Syria and the Region" conference in London, Feb. 4, 2016. Kerry plans to meet with State Department employees who submitted a cable calling for a more muscular U.S. Syria policy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he plans to meet with department employees who submitted a cable calling for a more muscular U.S. Syria policy, although the State Department has stopped short of saying that Kerry agrees with their position.

Asked by reporters on Monday if he had read the so-called "Dissent Channel" cable, Kerry acknowledged that he had and said, "It is very good."

He said he planned to meet with at least some of the 51 mostly mid-level diplomats who have called for targeted airstrikes against the Syrian regime.

The diplomats' request, submitted through the department's internal Dissent Channel, became public last week after it was leaked to several news organizations.

Their call for airstrikes as a means of exerting pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime to pursue a political settlement stands in stark contrast to the administration's current policy, which has focused on ousting terrorists and backing a stalled U.N.-led effort for talks between the government and the opposition.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Kerry believes the diplomats have presented a "well-crafted argument." He stopped short, however, of saying Kerry backs their proposals.

"I would not characterize his comments today as being indicative of a full-throated endorsement of the views on this particular Dissent Channel message," Kirby said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday he was uncertain whether President Barack Obama had read the cable. He added that while the administration had not yet seen the desired results in Syria, it did not want to repeat "mistakes" made by previous U.S. administrations.

"The United States will not be successful, nor will anyone else, in imposing a military solution on the problems inside of Syria," Earnest said. "That, I think is a basic lesson that we learned after the 2003 invasion of Iraq that was ordered by the previous administration.”

There is widespread dissatisfaction with the current situation in Syria.

A February cease-fire with multi-national support has eroded.

Also, U.N.-facilitated talks between the regime and opposition have stalled, partly due to opposition complaints about ongoing regime strikes on rebel targets. In addition, international relief workers have had limited success in delivering aid to besieged areas.

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