The US State Department has said the United States would never negotiate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite John Kerry’s statement about negotiations.
In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington is looking for steps to bring the Syrian president to the negotiation table.
“We have to negotiate in the end. And what we’re pushing for is to get him [Assad] to come and do that, and it may require that there be increased pressure on him of various kinds in order to do that,” Kerry said.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, however, said Kerry was not specifically referring to Assad and that Washington would never negotiate with him.
“By necessity, there has always been a need for representatives of the Assad regime to be a part of this process. It has never been and would not be Assad who would negotiate – and the secretary was not saying that today,” she reiterated on Sunday.
Earlier this month, Kerry said that military pressure may be necessary to oust President Assad.
“Ultimately a combination of diplomacy and pressure will be needed to bring about a political transition [in Syria]. Military pressure particularly may be necessary given President Assad’s reluctance to negotiate seriously,” Kerry stated.
The US had repeatedly announced that Syria’s future political system should not include Assad.
Assad, who was reelected last year, has said only Syrians have the right to determine the future of their country.
In an earlier statement this week, Washington once again called on Assad to step down and accused his government of being authoritarian and brutal against the Syrian people.
The Syrian government has been fighting militants and terrorists from various countries. The United States and its regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside the embattled country.
Over 200,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for four years, according to the United Nations.