U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Russia needs to help find a political solution to the conflict in Syria and not just support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking to a Kazakh TV channel, Kerry said Washington is willing to cooperate with Moscow to help end the 4-year-old war that has killed more than 250,000 people and sent millions of refugees fleeing to Europe and elsewhere.
“Clearly, we would like to cooperate, not be in opposition. But it really depends a lot on the choices that Russia makes about whether it is there to find the political solution or whether it is there to simply support the Assad regime,” he said.
“If it is only the regime, it’s a problem, because Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, other countries, the opposition, will not stop fighting Assad. The way to end the war is to ask Mr. Assad to help with a transition into a new government, and he can help save his country. But if it’s all about him, then it’s a problem,” he said.
Russia on September 30 launched its air campaign in Syria that the Kremlin has said has targeted the radical militants of the Islamic State.
Many observers say it is, in fact, aimed at eliminating Syrian rebel groups seeking to overthrow Assad, some of whom have received training or U.S.-built weaponry.
Kerry left on October 28 for a multileg journey that includes Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan.