Kerry warns against Assad's re-election

US Secretary of State says any attempt by Syrian leader at re-election may extend civil war.

    Kerry warns against Assad's re-election
    Kerry, left, and Qatar Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya addressed two-state solution for Palestine and Israel [AFP]

    US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that any attempt by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to be re-elected would extend the country's civil war.

    "If he thinks he's going to solve problems by running for re-election, I can say to him, I think that certainly this war will not end as long as that's the case that he's there," Kerry said after talks with Arab League officials in Paris on Monday.

    Kerry also said that it was hard to see how Iran, a key Syria ally, could play a constructive role in planned peace talks in Geneva without backing plans for a transitional government in Syria.

    Kerry said that Iran had already not supported the implementation of a first round of talks in Geneva.

    "It's very hard to see how Iran can be constructive in the absence of their willingness to come for the purpose of the
    negotiation," he told reporters.

    "If they accept Geneva 1, and want to be constructive in helping to set up a transitional government, that's a different issue."

    The leaders were meeting in preparation for a Friends of Syria meeting to take place in London on Tuesday, dubbed Geneva 2 and aimed at ending the civil war in Syria.

    In their press conference, following their meeting, both Kerry and Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya addressed a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel, with Qatar making a financial commitment to the Palestinian Authority.

    "We are thankful to Qatar ... for contributing $150m in debt relief to the Palestinian Authority," Kerry said. 

    Kerry also addressed a report in leading French newspaper Le Monde that indicated the NSA programme had collected more than 70 million French telephone records over a month. 

    Kerry said protecting people's security in today's world is a "very complicated, very challenging task," but was designed to protect US citizens.

    The French government summoned the US ambassador for an explanation and promises that the snooping would stop.

    Al Jazeera's Tim Friend, reporting from Paris, said that it was a wide ranging press conference, but that Kerry's statements about the alleged spying by the NSA suggested the practice would continue.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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