News / Middle East

    Kerry: No Alternative to Syria Conference

    FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 10, 2013.
    FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 10, 2013.
    VOA News
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that reaching a negotiated solution to the crisis in Syria would be "very difficult," but that there is no alternative but to push to bring the warring sides together for talks.

    Kerry made the remarks Tuesday in response to a question about comments made by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who expressed doubts about the success of a Syrian peace conference scheduled for next month.

    Kerry said he believes the talks can take place, and that there is no better option for bringing an end to over two and a half years of fighting.

    "There's no alternative other than continued fighting, continued destruction, continued growth in the refugee population, continued potential disintegration of the whole country and the continued increase in the numbers of radical of extremists who are appearing on the scene to fill the void. That is dangerous. We have no choice but to push towards a Geneva conference," said Kerry.

    The secretary also denied that U.S. representatives have met with members of the Islamic Front, an umbrella group of six major rebel brigades that wants Syria to be an Islamic state.

    He said the nations that support the moderate Syrian opposition are working to make sure there is a delegation at the conference that broadly represents the Syrian people, but does not include "radical extremists."

    The United Nations has scheduled the long-delayed conference to open on January 22.

    A spokesman for U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said Tuesday that a lack of hotel rooms in Geneva has forced the first day of talks to move to the city of Montreux. The conference will then reconvene in Geneva on January 24.

    The fighting in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people and forced millions more from their homes since first breaking out in March 2011. The U.N. announced Monday it is seeking $6.5 billion to help the refugees and those displaced within Syria next year.

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