News / Europe

Kerry Issues Blunt Warnings to Syria, Iran

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) hold a joint news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague following their meeting in London, Feb. 25, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) hold a joint news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague following their meeting in London, Feb. 25, 2013.
Al Pessin
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has sent a stern warning to both Iran and Syria, telling the governments of both countries they will have to embrace change or suffer the consequences.

Kerry spoke Monday during a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London, the first stop of his first foreign trip as U.S. secretary of state.

Kerry called on Iran to negotiate in good faith at talks with the international contact group starting Tuesday, saying time is running out for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over its nuclear program.  

“The window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot, by definition, remain open forever. But it is open today," he said. "It is open now and there is still time. But there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and to negotiate in good faith.”

Iranian nuclear program

Iranian negotiators will sit down Tuesday with diplomats from the five permanent Security Council members and Germany in Kazakhstan.  

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but many nations around the world are concerned it is actually aimed at building an arsenal of nuclear bombs.

"An Iran with a nuclear weapon, in that region, and given all that has happened, is simply unacceptable," Kerry said. "And we have stated that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon.”

Kerry said the United States goes to this week’s talks prepared to work in “good faith” and “mutual respect” in order to avoid what he called “whatever terrible consequences could follow failure” of the talks.

Syrian negotiations

Kerry condemns Syria

As for Syria, Kerry rejected the latest Syrian government call for negotiations with the opposition, saying the bombing of civilian areas in recent days in the commercial city Aleppo makes it hard to take the offer seriously.  

“It is pretty hard to understand how, when you see these Scuds falling on the innocent people of Aleppo, it is impossible to take their notion that they are ready to have a dialogue very seriously,” he said.

In recent weeks, both Syria’s government and the opposition have suggested they are ready for talks to end the war, in stark contrast to previous statements.

Speaking alongside Kerry, Britain's Hague called for increased support for Syria's opposition, saying that "our policy cannot be static" in the face of the violence. Hague said that in the coming weeks Britain would be pushing for a new package of assistance to support the opposition Syrian National Coalition.

The comments come as the coalition is considering boycotting the next Friends of Syria meeting in Rome on Thursday because it says the international community is not doing enough to end the violence. The Syrians are concerned the meeting will produce more talk, but no more action to help them in their fight against the Assad regime.  

Kerry urged them to attend nonetheless.

“We are not coming to Rome simply to talk," he said. "We are coming to Rome to make a decision about next steps, and perhaps even other options that may or may not be discussed further after that. We understand that the Syrian people want to see results from this conference.”

Russia's role

In Moscow, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that the Syrian government is open to dialogue with those who want to take part.

"We are ready for dialogue with everyone who wants it...even with those who have weapons in their hands," Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying. "We believe that reforms will not come through bloodshed but only through dialogue.”

Moallem reportedly made the comment before meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The head of the Syrian National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, told reporters in Cairo, however, that he wants to hear clearly from the government. He said the opposition grouping has not yet communicated with the Syrian government and is waiting to do so to see what will happen. Al-Khatib also said opposition visits to the United States and Russia are being delayed.

Jessica Golloher contributed to this report from Moscow and Naomi Martig from Washington.

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by: Sseruwu Alex John from: Kampala
March 01, 2013 1:21 PM
Kerry's tough talk is a mere rhetoric and intimidation to Iran and allies, military confrontation by US and allies isn't a solution either, it is only diplomacy, diplomacy and only diplomacy that can win over Iran and other anti Americans. Let US understand why Iran is interested in the nuke weapons, then use that as a yard stick to persuade them to abandon the program by offering an alternative incentive. Military aggression on Iran will automatically speed up US's road to absolute collapse and a total change of the world order as the capitalist US and allies haven't healed yet from economic death row point.

by: Richard from: China
February 25, 2013 9:45 PM
Take care of your own business. Okay?

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City,NJ
February 25, 2013 8:04 PM
We applaud Secretary Kerry for a strong voice and a bold stand,we need people like Secretary Kerry in power to put things in place. Who is Iran to rub shoulder with the world super power?what kind of mess is this?America is the best,and America is the greatest.If Iran doesn't negotiate with the US ,she should pay hard price.ENOUGH IS REALLY ENOUGH. How Iran nuclear program is for peaceful proposes when she said Israel should be wipe of the map?Ahmadinejad primary motive is to destroy a whole nation,and we as a good people need to stop this nonsense.finally we have a man for the hour,Secretary Kerry is the man for the job,God Bless America

by: Paul Felix Schott from: United States of America
February 25, 2013 5:51 PM
John Kerry that is SCARY giving more time to any one that is building weapons for war, and has been for the last 25+ years.

Even more Scary that they have been giving them to Terrorist Groups for a long time and the USA is letting them do it, and as all in obama's team all you can say is you have more time. Were are the Leaders that stand for what is right and good for all mankind. This Nation needs Leaders that stand United for the good of all not the wicked holding leaders like a dog on a leash.
United We Stand In GOD We Trust
True Patriotic Americans
The Lord's Little Helper
Paul Felix Schott

by: Arash Kamaangir from: New York
February 25, 2013 4:27 PM
I am puzzled as to why Mr. Kerry doesn’t mention the amount of nuke Israel has. Don’t you people realize that if that issue is resolve, we can deal better with Iran and the rest of the world since the whole world sees this as very unfair game. In today’s world, the young generation would not accept any thing that smells "bias.".

Even if the new leaders in Iran accept a deal without addressing Israel's arsenal, the next generation will find something to fight back and I am afraid with the way technology is going, the next generation would find easy access to devastating means to have their revenge. Let's talk with reason and avoid any bully tactic since it doesn’t work in today's world. The age of wild west is gone.

by: edmays from: Brick Nj
February 25, 2013 2:54 PM
Finally some strong talk instead of the usual nambly pambly oatmeal we get.

by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
February 25, 2013 1:40 PM
Well spoken Mr Kerry. The days of the fox are over and it is now the day of the lions (Read Pareto 'the lions and the foxes') The old world order is gone. The new world order now looks to America for leadership.

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