“We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind wondering where the support is or if it’s coming,” Mr. Kerry said at a news conference in London. “And we are determined to change the calculation on the ground for President Assad.”
Mr. Kerry’s comments came amid diplomatic maneuvering and an unusual White House intervention over the Rome meeting, scheduled for Thursday.
After the Syrian opposition signaled that it would boycott the Rome conference to protest what it sees as negligible help from Western nations, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mr. Kerry called Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of the Syrian opposition coalition, and persuaded him to attend.
American officials have said that their goal in supporting the Syrian resistance is to build up its leverage in the hope that Mr. Assad will agree to yield power and a political transition can be negotiated to end the nearly two-year-old conflict.
In Moscow, however, Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, appeared to be making a competing initiative. In a statement during a visit to Russia, which has been one of the Assad government’s main backers, Mr. Moallem said that Syrian authorities were “ready for a dialogue with anyone who’s willing, even with those who carry arms.”
It was the first time that a high-ranking Syrian official had signaled that the government is open to talking with Syrian rebels who have taken up weapons against the armed forces. - Full Read: NY Times
Assad Pulls Ahead in Syrian War. Putin, Khamenei Are Co-Victors
March 5 has been set as the date for peace talks to open in Moscow between the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime, debkafile reveals here exclusively. Opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib is waiting to meet the Assad regime’s representative, possibly Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, in the Russian capital by the end of February to set up the talks. Bashar Assad has taken his resignation off the agenda and insists on reserving the option to run again for president in 2014.
He is backed in this by President Vladimir Putin. And even the Syrian opposition appears to have tacitly bowed to this precondition – an admission that the rebel movement has reached its limit and Assad’s genocidal, no-holds-barred tactics have paid off. With all their acclaimed victories, rebel forces know that their desperate bid to conquer Damascus was repulsed by the Syrian army’s superior fire power and heavy armor. Full Read: Debka
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