Kerry: "We have to negotiate" with Assad

Kerry: "We have to negotiate" with Assad
The US Secretary of State says he would be willing to talk with Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, to end the violence if the latter is ready to implement Geneva I.
3 min read
15 March, 2015
By some estimates, more than 200,000 Syrians have been killed in four years (Anadolu)

The United States will have to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end the bloodshed in Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview that aired Sunday, on the fourth anniversary of the revolution.

"Well, we have to negotiate in the end. We've always been willing to negotiate in the context of the Geneva I process," Kerry said in an interview carried out Saturday.

     We have to negotiate in the end. We've always been willing to negotiate.

- John Kerry

He stressed Washington was working hard to "re-ignite" efforts to find a political solution to end the war.

The United States has led international efforts to kick-start peace talks between Assad and a splintered Syrian opposition, bringing the two sides together in Geneva for the first time early last year.

But after two rounds of talks, the negotiations collapsed in bitter acrimony and no fresh talks have been scheduled while the scale of the killing and devastation has mounted.

"Assad didn't want to negotiate," Kerry told CBS television.

"So if he's ready to have a serious negotiation about the implementation of Geneva I, of course, if people are prepared to do that. And what we’re pushing for is to get him to come and do that," he replied when asked if he would negotiate with Assad.

Syria was dragged into a bloody war after a peaceful street movement against Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorial regime began in March 2011. Since then, more than 220,000 people have been killed and half of the country's population has been displaced, prompting human rights groups to accuse the international community of "failing Syria".

"This is one of the worst tragedies any of us have seen on the face of the planet," Kerry said, in an interview recorded in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

He insisted that despite the challenge of the US-led fight against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly Isis) which has seized territory in Iraq and Syria, Washington was still focused on ending the Syrian civil war. 

"We are increasing our efforts in a very significant way, working with the moderate opposition, but doing much more than that also," Kerry said.

"We're also pursuing a diplomatic track. We have had conversations with a number of different critical players in this tragedy," he said.

     We are working very hard with other interested parties to see if we can reignite a diplomatic outcome.

- John Kerry. 

Russia, which has close links to Assad, helped initiate the Geneva II talks in 2013, which were aimed at bringing about a political transition based on earlier Geneva I negotiations.

Kerry met in Geneva at the beginning of March with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss ways of bringing all sides back to the negotiating table.

"We are working very hard with other interested parties to see if we can reignite a diplomatic outcome," Kerry said.

US President Barack Obama "is extremely seized of the issue and focused on it with the intent to see what we can do to change the dynamic."