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The United States will work with international partners to ensure that Syrian civilians can survive the war, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.
“We have a very different set of circumstances than we had in September of last year,” Kerry said at a news conference in Jerusalem with visiting Swedish Foreign Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, following talks on Syria. “We will work with international partners to ensure that those that have been displaced and who are internally displaced can still have a safe exit.”
Kerry described the situation with Syria as “intense and changing.”
“We have to recognize that every day, there is an explosion, every day there has to be an attack, and even the humanitarian conditions for an hour or six hours are going to be critical,” Kerry said. “There’s a lot to be done, and it can’t just be left to the United Nations and the governments of Syria and the international community.”
The talks were the first since Secretary of State John Kerry was asked during his visit Sunday to address a series of new developments in the Middle East: the killing of journalists by Assad’s forces in Homs; a crackdown by Iran on the country’s Shi’ite Muslim community in the northeastern city of Qom after the arrests of Sunni clerics; an attack on a United Nations convoy near the Syrian capital of Damascus, followed by accusations of the involvement of the Israeli military in the incident; and the execution of Syrian opposition leaders in the eastern city of Ghouta.
During his speech, Kerry outlined a new strategy for ending the 15-month-old war that will be aimed at winning support from both international backers as well as non-state actors.
“While we are committed to winning hearts and minds,” the secretary of state said, “to our peace and security is what we must win — and we have to win by acting on the world stage.”
Kerry said the United States is not focused on any immediate political solution to the crisis, rather it is focused on “winning hearts and minds” and “winning back the respect and trust that we need.”
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces killed three journalists in Homs, Syria on November 4, 2014 ©Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters
The secretary of state spoke after Kerry was asked whether he had any concerns about a renewed push back in Syria in the coming weeks by rebels fighting Assad’s government.
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