Kerry to attend White House talks on Syrian stalemate

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 June, 2013, 11:04pm


US Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a trip to Israel and Palestinian territories this week to attend White House talks on Syria amid growing calls for America to arm the opposition.

Kerry's efforts to rekindle the Middle East peace talks appear to have bogged down, and a flow of Hezbollah fighters into Syria is helping the regime win a string of victories against the rebels.

"The secretary will be in Washington this week. He had planned a trip that was widely reported across the region," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

She confirmed Kerry would be taking part in White House meetings on Syria, describing them as "routine" talks in which President Barack Obama's national security team explores "all possible options that would accomplish our objective of helping the Syrian opposition".

Psaki refuted the notion that Washington was getting close to bending to pressure and dropping its refusal to arm the Syrian opposition. "There's been a long conversation about how to continue to aid the opposition and what we can do to strengthen their position on the ground while also planning a political transition," she said.

Kerry is also trying with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to organise a peace conference bringing together the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the rebels in an attempt to end the fighting that has claimed 94,000 lives.

Amid wrangling between opposition leaders and a fierce debate over exactly who should attend, the date for the talks will be in July at the earliest.

Last week, Kerry warned that if his efforts to kick-start the peace negotiations, frozen since 2010, fail there may never be another chance.

"We are running out of time. We're running out of possibilities ... if we do not succeed now, we may not get another chance," Kerry told the American Jewish Community Global Forum.