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White House Denies Softening U.S. Position on Syria's Assad

WASHINGTON -- A White House spokesman said the United States continues to push for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, despite suggestions that Washington may be softening its stance.

Josh Earnest’s made the remarks on December 16, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry met in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on how to resolve Syria's civil war.

Kerry told reporters in Moscow after those talks that “the United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change as it is known in Syria," while stressing that Assad is unable to lead the future of Syria.

Some observers concluded Washington had moved closer to Moscow’s position -- that Assad should stay in power for now to fight Islamic State militants.

Moscow opposed U.S. calls for Assad to step down.

U.S. and Russian officials are expected to join Syrian opposition representatives for talks in New York on December 18.