Kerry: Assad stonewalling in peace talks

Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of stonewalling during peace talks in hopes of winning on the battlefield instead of at the negotiating table.

“Bashar al-Assad has not engaged in the discussions along the promised and required standard that both Russia spoke up for and the regime spoke up for, that they would come to Geneva and accept the Geneva I communique as the basis of negotiations,” Kerry said. “They have refused to open up one moment of discussion legitimately about a transition government, and it is very clear that Bashar al-Assad is continuing to try to win this in the battlefield rather than to come to the negotiating table in good faith.”

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“Assad himself is engaging in state-sanctioned terror against his own people. When you indiscriminately drop bombs on women and children, when you starve people and torture people by the thousands, those are acts of terror,” Kerry added.

Speaking with Indonesia’s foreign secretary in Jakarta, Kerry said negotiators knew the talks would be “very, very difficult” but added that Assad’s regime has made negotiations “tougher.”

“The opposition, whom they dismissed completely, has come to these talks with a greater preparation, with a greater preparedness, to be able to talk seriously, and they have presented themselves … far more effectively and with greater sense of purpose than the Assad regime,” Kerry said.

“I think it was an example to the whole world that, while the Assad regime has obstructed and filibustered, the opposition demonstrated a courageous and mature seriousness of purpose and a willingness to try to discuss all the aspects of the conflict,” he added.

Kerry said the opposition put forward “a well-thought-out, well-reasoned, viable roadmap for the creation of a transitional governing body and a viable path by which to move the negotiations forward. “The regime stonewalled. They did nothing, except continue to drop barrel bombs on their own people and continue to destroy their own country.”

Kerry said support for the regime has grown from Iran, Hezbollah and Russia.

“Russia needs to be a part of the solution and not be contributing so many more weapons and so much more aid that they’re, in fact, enabling Assad to double down, which is creating an enormous problem,” he said.

“Russia, on several occasions, has stood up publicly with me, or in other places, and said they are committed to that transition government to the Geneva communique and Geneva I. And yet, we have not seen the kind of effort to create the dynamic by which that can be achieved,” he added.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday blasted the Obama administration's policy toward Syria, saying all "viable" options have not been exhausted.

With peace in Syria appearing harder to achieve as a second round of negations to end the country's civil war on Friday failed to reach any agreement, McCain voiced his frustrations.

"The policy toward Syria has been an abysmal failure and a disgraceful one," McCain said on Sunday's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley

None of us want boots on the ground, but to not revisit other options, which are viable … is shameful,” McCain said

“We still believe there is no military solution with respect to Syria; there has to be a political resolution,” Kerry said on Monday.

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