Thursday, May 9, 2013

Breaking: Kerry Sees Transitional Syrian Government Without Assad

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says a transitional government in Syria would not include president Bashar al-Assad.

Kerry said Thursday in Rome, where he was meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, that the goal is a political solution agreed to by the Syrian government and those opposed to Mr. Assad.

Kerry says that "clearly means" the Syrian president will not be part of the transitional government.

Syria's main opposition coalition has long demanded that any peace process begin with Mr. Assad and top security officials leaving power.

Earlier this week, Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced their hope to convene an international conference later in May to launch Syrian peace talks.

The diplomats say they will try to persuade the two sides to negotiate, based on a plan that calls for a transitional government leading to elections.

Major powers backed that plan in June, but it did not specify whether Mr. Assad could govern Syria in the future. ( I am going to assume he can govern, if he runs for election and wins, which the US would oppose, but if it is the will of the Syrian people....)

The United States has called on Mr. Assad to step down, while longtime ally Russia has rejected foreign calls for the president to give up power. However, Russia has also tried to distance itself from the Syrian president's political future.

United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said Wednesday the U.S.-Russian initiative on Syria is "the first hopeful news concerning that unhappy country in a very long time."

He says the initiative is "only a first step," but added that he has "every reason to expect" that all members of the U.N. Security Council will cooperate to carry the process forward. 

HT to Freethinker: Time to turn words into deeds in Syria: Russian FM

Lavrov said after talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Moscow and Washington "have always been in favor of a political solution, the inadmissibility of Syria's break-up ... This was fixed in Geneva."
The foreign minister said the United States and Russia "do not differ greatly" on the issue.

"We believe that full implementation of the Geneva Communique pre-supposes the establishment of a transitional governing agency. We proceed from the assumption that the agency will exercise full executive power," Lavrov said, adding "we are confident that will be the best and shortest way to settle the Syrian crisis."

Lavrov also warned of continuous humanitarian disasters and a possible regional destabilization if the Syrian government was toppled by force, especially with the help of outside intervention.
Kerry, for his part, said the Geneva Communique should not be treated simply as a piece of paper, but "as a road map to a new Syria without violence."
Kerry proposed holding an international conference on Syria by the end of May that would be attended by representatives of the regime and the opposition.

Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that Moscow and Beijing are determined to continue coordinating efforts exerted to reach a settlement to the crisis in Syria as soon as possible.

 The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that the two sides stressed continuing coordination between Moscow and Beijing to reach a settlement to the crisis in Syria.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced after his meeting with his U.S. counterpart that Russia and the US would work to encourage the Syrian government and the opposition groups to find a political solution, and the two sides agreed on the necessity to exert efforts to speed up the process.

Bogdanov Briefed Syrian Ambassador to Moscow on Russian-U.S. Talks
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Russian President's Special Representative to the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, briefed Syria's Ambassador in Moscow, Riad Haddad, on the content of the Russian-U.S. accord reached yesterday during a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry. 

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Bogdanov reviewed with Syria's Ambassador, Riad Haddad, the content of the agreements reached during the meeting between Lavrov and Kerry concerning settling the crisis in Syria through holding an international conference based on Geneva Communiqué on June 30th.

What to make of this? 
Kerry seeing Transitional Government without Assad (noting that nothing of the sort was said until Kerry went to Jordan)
Russia being vague, as usual.
Syrian media reporting awareness of agreements reached during the Lavrov/Kerry meeting

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