Kerry: Syrian opposition to soon name reps for talks

ANADOLU AGENCY
WASHINGTON
Published 20.11.2015 22:37

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Syrian opposition groups would soon meet to determine representatives for negotiations about a political transition in the war-torn country.

"Hopefully there will be a conference in a few days, somewhere in a week, 10 days to two weeks to bring them together," Kerry told reporters following a closed-door briefing with the Senate Intelligence Committee on the U.S.'s response to the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Once the opposition finalizes its negotiators, the U.N. will convene the parties who participated in 2013 Geneva talks to begin the process of creating a transition for Syria, Kerry said. Top diplomats from the U.S., Turkey, Russia and Saudi Arabia met for a second time last month in the Austrian capital of Vienna to discuss the way forward for a political transition. Several European and Arab countries as well as Iran also joined the second round of talks.

The Vienna talks were pioneered by Russia in hopes of ending the conflict in Syria that has led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people and displaced more than half of the population.

During the brief conversation with reporters on Capitol Hill, Kerry also took issue with anti-refugee sentiments expressed by U.S. lawmakers and governors.

"We do not have to lose out values in terms of our ability to vet people," Kerry said, criticizing lawmakers who hours earlier voted overwhelmingly in support of a House bill that tightens an already stringent vetting process for Syrian and Iraqi refugees looking to enter the U.S.

More than half of U.S. governors earlier this week said they would not welcome Syrian refugees in their states.

"A long time ago we put the strongest vetting requirement of any country in the world. We have had 785,000 refugees who have come into this country since 2009, I think, and of that, only 12 people were either arrested or deported at some point of time and none of them attacked anybody in this country," he said. "Nobody can tell me to look at a grandmother who has come out of a country and war-torn situation with her grandkids and not able to determine whether or not these people represent a threat or not represent a threat."

Kerry also urged countries that are facing a refugee influx to open their doors. He said that it is "inappropriate to panic and turn our back to our fundamental values" by rejecting refugees.

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