Kerry expects 'clarity' on Syria talks within 24 to 48 hours

US Secretary of State John Kerry says he hopes to have 'clarity' on start date of Syrian peace talks within 24 to 48 hours

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

The United States Secretary of State John Kerry.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday indicated he hoped to have “clarity” on the potential start date of Syrian peace talks within 24 to 48 hours.

He said it was better to postpone the peace talks for a few days than to have a problematic start.

Kerry told journalists that invitations for the peace talks should not be dispatched until "you have pieces lined up."

"They have to be serious. If they are not serious, war will continue. Up to them - you can lead a horse to water; you can't make it drink," Kerry said.

Kerry stated that the mediators had formed a structure and the Syrians had the ability to make a decision on the future of Syria.

"We will have to see what decision Staffan de Mistura (the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria) makes as to exactly how he is going to begin; but we don't want to decide and have it crumble on day one. It’s worth taking a day or two, or three, or whatever,” Kerry added.

The Syrian peace talks were supposed to start on January 25 between the Syrian government and opposition groups. A Western diplomat declared on Sunday they were unlikely to start before Wednesday.

The Assad regime has stated it is ready to join the talks, but the opposition's High Negotiation Committee has underlined it will not attend the talks with the Syrian regime until Russian air strikes stop and regime blockades are lifted from populated areas.

Kerry rejected comments from the lead negotiator of the Syrian opposition and said, "I don’t know where this is coming from. Maybe it’s a pressure thing or an internal political thing, but that is not the situation."

"They are the negotiators; so they will decide the future. What I did tell them is that it’s by mutual consent. You have a veto, so does he, so you are going to have to decide how to move forward here," Kerry said, referring to Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

"The position of the United States is and hasn’t changed, that we are still supporting the opposition politically, financially and militarily," he stated.

Meanwhile, Kerry also added another meeting of the International Syria Support Group, of countries supporting the Syria peace process, had been "tentatively" announced for Feb. 11.

TRTWorld and agencies