Monday, October 26, 2015

SYRIA - That Sucking Sound

"Is progress being made on a political solution in Syria?" PBS NewsHour 10/23/2015


SUMMARY:  Secretary of State John Kerry met with counterparts from Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to work on finding a political settlement for the Syrian conflict, following a Moscow meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the state of play between the U.S. and Russia.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Secretary of State John Kerry met in Vienna today with his counterparts from Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in a renewed quest to find a political settlement for the war in Syria.

He spoke to reporters afterwards.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  Today, we came here aware of all of the pitfalls, aware of all of the hurdles.  Every foreign minister here has been wrestling with this issue for a period of time.  But we came here with a commitment to try to find new ideas for how to break the impasse and end the conflict.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  This came after an agreement Monday between the U.S. and Russian militaries on how to avoid accidental midair collisions as both countries bomb Syria.  And also that day, Syrian President Assad met with President Putin in Moscow.  It was the first time Assad has left Syria since the war began in 2011.

For more on the state of play between the U.S. and Russia over Syria, we turn to NewsHour chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner, who has been following all of this.

Margaret, thank you.

So, we know that the U.S., Russia and these other countries have been trying for two years, at least, to talk about, to find a political settlement. No results. Today any different?

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  It’s very hard to tell, Judy.

The one thing that indicates there maybe progress is that they agreed they are going to meet again next week, at the end of next week.  Well, when Secretary Kerry said, well, people brought a lot of new ideas, publicly, we heard no new ideas.  What we heard was the same mantra: We all agree it should be a united Syria, it should be democratic, and secular, and be diverse.

But there was no resolution of this huge hump over Assad’s future.  And, you know, Turkey and Saudi want him gone now.  Russia wants — afraid of the chaos that could result if he were to fall precipitously and wants him to stay.  The U.S. is the only one that has shown nay leg on that.  It was pretty clear from what Kerry said today that the U.S. is willing to consider a transition in which Assad may remain for a while.

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