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US denies Kerry favoured arming Syrian rebels

Denying that Kerry had called to arm Syrian rebels, the US said it wants a negotiated political settlement.

Washington | February 4, 2014 12:30:17 pm
Both the State Department and the White House denied that Kerry had favoured arming the Syrian rebels. Both the State Department and the White House denied that Kerry had favoured arming the Syrian rebels.

The US has said that it wants a negotiated political settlement to resolve the crisis in Syria and denied that Secretary of State John Kerry had called for a change of strategy and to arm opposition rebels.

“We believe that it is absolutely necessary to press for a negotiated political resolution to this conflict. There is no other alternative,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday.

President Barack Obama’s view is that the US should not be putting American troops on the ground in Syria and that his administration needs to pursue a policy that presses both sides on the basis of the Geneva Communique to resolve this conflict through a negotiated settlement, he noted.

“There is no other path ultimately for Syria that does not include or is not driven by a negotiated political settlement,” Carney said, responding to questions about the claims being made by the two US Senators – John McCain and Lindsey Graham – that Kerry had favoured arming the Syrian rebels to defeat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Both the State Department and the White House denied the allegations.

“It’s a characterisation, that reflects how Senator Graham and Senator McCain view our policy, not how Secretary Kerry views it,” Carney said. “It’s no secret that some Congress members support arming the rebels, but at no point during Kerry’s meeting in Munich with members did he raise a lethal assistance for the opposition,” he added. This is a case of members projecting what they want to hear and not stating the facts of what was discussed, he said.

The United States, he added, has a variety of forms of assistance that it provides to the Syrian people, to the opposition, and to the military coalition. “But the policy that we have in place is the policy that we’re pursuing. There is not an alternative here to resolving this conflict that does not come through a negotiated settlement,” he said.

At the State Department, Kerry’s spokesperson Jen Psaki asserted that the Secretary of State in his meeting with the Congressional members never advocated arming the rebels. “At no point during the meeting did Secretary raise lethal assistance for the opposition. At no point did he state what I think was quoted, that the process has failed,” she said, adding that she was present at the meeting.

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