White House denies 'new review' of Syria options

The White House on Friday looked to downplay Secretary of State John Kerry's remark that President Obama had asked for new options to address the deepening civil war in Syria.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Kerry said Obama was concerned by deteriorating humanitarian conditions and faltering peace talks, and had asked for policy options that had not yet been presented.

ADVERTISEMENT
"That evaluation, by necessity, given the circumstances, is taking place at this time," Kerry said, according to Reuters. "And when these options are ripe and when the president calls for it, there will undoubtedly be some discussion about them."

But White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted Kerry's comments shouldn't be interpreted "as some new announcement or new consideration."

"The president is always asking his team to evaluate where we are and where we could be," Carney said. "This is not a one-time thing. It's not like this is a new review."

Carney conceded there was "certainly frustration" that the Geneva peace process hadn't produced more tangible results. But he said "regardless of where we were in the process, the president, as a starting principle on these issues, always tasks his teams, both on foreign policy and domestic, to not be complacent about the path forward."

"He's always looking at other options or always asking for all the options that might be available to him," he added.

At a press conference earlier this week, Obama suggested he could be re-evaluating his Syria policy.

"Right now we don't think that there is a military solution, per se, to the problem," he said. "But the situation is fluid, and we are continuing to explore every possible avenue to solve this problem."