Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kerry says Syrian rebels balk at talks

LONDON — Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged Tuesday that leaders of Syria's U.S.-backed, moderate opposition have not committed to negotiate with the government of President Bashar Assad, a blow to efforts to settle the stalemated civil war at a peace table.

Kerry also acknowledged that a United Nations peace conference may not take place as planned next month, although he said he thinks it should. And he said that despite the U.S. view that Assad must leave office, his political fate would be a matter for the two sides in negotiations.

"That's for the parties to negotiate. That's not for us to predetermine," Kerry said following meetings in London with a group of nations promoting peace talks.

The United States and Russia have proposed a framework for talks that would set as a goal the establishment of a transitional government, which the Obama administration has long said would not include Assad.

But such an agreement appears to be a long shot, despite a diplomatic push by the United States, Russia and the United Nations over the past month. For starters, the U.S.-backed opposition bloc has lost political ground as Western- and Arab-backed rebels have lost ground on the battlefield. And on Monday, Assad suggested in a television interview that he could seek reelection in 2014, indicating he has no plans to step aside.

Neither side appears to have the military strength to defeat the other, offering the prospect of many more months of killing in a war that has claimed more than 100,000 people.

Because of their weakened position, the rebels and opposition figures have resisted pressure to quickly schedule talks in Geneva.

It was unclear after Tuesday's talks whether the Syrian Opposition Coalition, the main Western-backed opposition group, would attend the talks as a united front. The Syrian National Council, a prominent group with representatives in the coalition, had said it would boycott the Geneva meeting.

Kerry met with foreign ministers from the "London 11" — a core group from the Friends of Syria group consisting of Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States — and with senior Syrian opposition leaders.

Syrian President Bashar Assad refuses to step aside.

Syrian President Bashar Assad refuses to step aside.

Kerry says Syrian rebels balk at talks 10/22/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:19am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two girls reported missing in New Port Richey

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Two girls, ages 5 and 16, were reported missing Saturday, New Port Richey police said.

  2. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  3. Florida softball returns to World Series; FSU baseball in ACC title game


    GAINESVILLE — Florida defeated Alabama 2-1 Saturday to win the deciding Game 3 of their softball Super Region, putting the Gators in the Women's College World Series for the eighth time in program history.

    ’NOLE POWER: FSU’s Dylan Busby, right, is congratulated by teammate Taylor Walls after Busby’s homer against Duke.
  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)


    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]