News / USA

Kerry: US, Russia Not Going to Back off Helping Rivals in Syrian War

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a meeting of the London 11 "Friends of Syria" meeting in Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a meeting of the London 11 "Friends of Syria" meeting in Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
— The United States and Russia back opposing sides in Syria's civil war. But they say they are also working together to organize a transitional authority to end the fighting.

The Obama administration's decision to arm Syrian rebels heightens its differences with Russia, which continues to sell weapons to the government in Damascus.

At a Doha meeting of foreign ministers backing the rebellion, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington and Moscow supporting opposing sides in this conflict does not mean they are at odds over how best to end the war.

"Neither side is going to back off helping those they’ve chosen to help. We understand that. The key is for us to use the leverage with the people that we’re helping to bring them to the table and achieve an appropriate negotiated solution, and that’s what we’re working for," he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in ParisUS Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in Paris
x
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in Paris
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in Paris
Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are leading efforts to bring rivals together in Geneva for talks on a Syrian transitional authority. But while Washington says that authority means embattled President Bashar al-Assad must go, Moscow says there is no such demand.

"I haven't seen significant shifts in the Russian position. Russia has been clear for some time that they would prefer a political solution to the Syrian conflict based on their reading of the agreement reached in Geneva with the U.S," said U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

Kerry said he took Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their word that they were working in good faith toward a transitional authority. But he said Russian arms for the Assad army were not helping.

"Russia, while nevertheless looking for this - ostensibly looking for this political solution, has also made it possible for Assad to join forces with the Iranians as well as with Hezbollah and wage this higher-level, higher-intensity war against his own people," said U.S. secretary of state.

President Putin said what was dangerous in Syria was arming the rebels, especially as some of those anti-Assad forces were U.S.-recognized terrorists. Where would those weapons end up, he asked, and what role would they play.

"We are concerned about a political vacuum in Syria," said President Putin, "if some decisions about a change of government are taken now. If President Assad goes today and a political vacuum emerges, who will fill it? Maybe terrorist organizations."

President Putin said he would honor existing arms contracts with Damascus, which could include advanced air-defense missiles. Kerry said there was no comparing arming the opposition with arming the government.

"The Russians will say, 'Well, others are arming the opposition.' And that is true. But the opposition has made it clear that they’re prepared to provide protections to all the people in the state of Syria. Assad, on the other hand, is waging war against most of the people in the state," he said.

U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann said Russian and Iranian support discouraged the Assad government from making concessions toward a negotiated settlement, especially with its recent military gains.

"The regime believes that President Assad must remain in power and must be able to define the terms of negotiation. And so with those conditions present, I think the possibilities for negotiation are limited," he said.

Despite what Kerry called "big distinctions here," he believed Washington can still work closely with Moscow.

"I think they have interests in stability. They have interests in not encouraging extremists to grow in their power. The Russians clearly have longer-term interests in the region," he said.

U.S. and Russian diplomats meet with U.N. officials in Geneva Tuesday on how best to start talks toward a transitional authority for Syria.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
June 23, 2013 8:27 PM
Long ago there was an announcement that prolonged civil war in Syria had resulted in financial bankruptcy of Assad regime being unable to pay for its bills and liabilities. With Mr. Putin’s regime “selling” arms to the bankrupt regime, why should poverty-stricken Russian people pay the bills of the bankrupt Assad regime? Recently Russian Academy of Sciences published results of the study about wide spread of irreversible poverty in Putin’s Russia http://www.rg.ru/2013/06/21/bednost.html. Russia under Mr. Putin also came into a dire financial state, sliding into economic recession, having zero-entrepreneurship activity, record flight of the capital from Russia, experiencing demographic crisis, scientific and technological backwardness, and undeveloped transport and logistic infrastructure.


by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
June 23, 2013 4:48 PM
The first step for peace in Syria is Russia and the US settle their differences, before they meet with Assad government and the opposition forces. Syria has become the cradle of the new cold war tactics by major powers while more than hundred thousand Syrians are killed, millions of refugees went to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and millions of the internally displaced persons suffer inside Syria.


by: Hatem Zaki from: Egypt
June 23, 2013 3:22 PM
Russia and USA play for its own interests.No one of them want the Syrian interest .Russia and USA make benefits from ongoing war.Russia sell weapons the Assad regime and US administration realize that the Civil War makes Syria and its allies weaker

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid