Russia, Iran Could Persuade Syria’s Assad to Negotiate: Kerry

LONDON – Russia and Iran could help persuade Syria’s President Assad to negotiate an end to the civil war, Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.

Speaking after talks in London with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, he indicated that the timing of Assad’s departure was not as important as finding a political settlement to end the four-year war and worsening refugee crisis.

“Assad has to go,” Kerry said, but the “modality” and “timing” of his departure were a matter for discussion.

"We need to get to the negotiation. That is what we're looking for and we hope Russia and Iran, and any other countries with influence, will help to bring about that, because that's what is preventing this crisis from ending," he said.

"We're prepared to negotiate. Is Assad prepared to negotiate, really negotiate? Is Russia prepared to bring him to the table?"

“There is an urgency” in the need to find peace, he said, adding: “This is a critical moment.”