Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of stonewalling in peace talks and called on Russia to push its ally to negotiate with opposition leaders.
"Right now, Bashar Assad has not engaged in the discussions along the promised and required standard that both Russia spoke up for and the regime spoke up for," Kerry said during a press conference in Jakarta.
He said the Syrian leader’s team "refused to open up one moment of discussion" of a transitional government to replace Assad's regime. "It is very clear that Bashar Assad is trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table in good faith," Kerry added.
Kerry also had harsh words for Assad's allies in Moscow, saying Russia needs to be a part of the solution, rather than contributing aid and weapons to him which, “are in fact enabling Assad to double down.”
Russia has told the U.S. it was committed to helping create a transitional government, Kerry said, but has not delivered "the kind of effort to create the kind of dynamic by which that could be achieved."
Peace talks last week in Geneva ended with no progress toward breaking the impasse in the nearly 3-year-old conflict in Syria.
On Sunday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem blamed the U.S. for the breakdown in negotiations, saying the U.S. tried to "create a very negative climate for dialogue in Geneva." U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi apologized to the Syrian people for failing to reach progress.
"I am very, very sorry, and I apologize to the Syrian people that their hopes which were very, very high that something will happen here," he said.
- The Associated Press
First published February 17 2014, 1:14 AM