The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

February 25, 2013

Kerry urges Syrian opposition to attend Rome talks

(Continued)

BERLIN —

For his part, Hague said the violence in Syria, especially recent scud missile attacks on the city of Aleppo, was unacceptable and that the west's current position could not be sustained while an "appalling injustice" is being done to Syrian citizens.

"In the face of such murder and threat of instability, our policy cannot stay static as the weeks go by," Hague told reporters, standing beside Kerry. "We must significantly increase support for the Syrian opposition. We are preparing to do just that."

Kerry agreed.

"We are not coming to Rome simply to talk, we are coming to Rome to talk about next steps," Kerry said, adding that he was sympathetic to opposition complaints that they were not getting the support they need to defend themselves against the Assad regime or oust him from power.

"I am very sensitive to that frustration," recalling that as a U.S. senator he was one of several who pushed the administration to consider military aid to the Syrian opposition.

"But I am the new secretary of state ... and the president of the United States has sent me here and sent me to this series of meetings and in Rome because he is concerned about the course of events.

"This moment is ripe for us to be considering what more we can do," he said, adding that if the opposition wants results, "join us" in Rome.

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Monday the Assad regime was ready to hold talks with opposition leaders, the first time that a high-ranking Syrian official has stated publicly that the government would meet with the opposition. Al-Moallem made his comments after meeting in Moscow with Russian officials.

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