[QODLink]
Middle East

Kerry confident arms reaching Syria moderates

Top US diplomat expresses confidence that weapons being supplied to Syrian rebels are reaching the "right people".
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2013 00:51

Doha, Qatar - US Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed confidence that weapons are increasingly ending up in the hands of moderate groups within the Syrian opposition.

Speaking at a joint press conference at Doha’s al-Wajba Palace with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, Kerry said on Tuesday that Qatar and the US have worked to tighten sanctions and help Syria's opposition "build the unity and effectiveness that they need" to "change [Syrian] President [Bashar] Assad's calculation on the ground".

Kerry's trip to Qatar rounds off a nine-country tour through Europe and the Middle East, the first international trip he has taken since being confirmed as secretary of state in January.

'Legitimate dialogue'

Although the US has not provided arms to Syria's rebels, last week Kerry announced that the US would provide $60m in non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, including medical and food aid.

“We have now, for the first time … directed assistance straight to the military council and straight to the Syrian opposition,” said Kerry.

Spotlight
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

Sheikh Hamad was also optimistic about Syria, saying the international community was starting to "work in a more constructive fashion", but said that if other countries had worked "with more diligence" on the issue in the past, the Assad government "would have been gone by now".

He had harsh words for Assad and his government, describing Assad as a “terrorist” who is "killing his people".

Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been among the most vocal advocates of providing arms to the Syrian opposition.

Kerry also spoke briefly about North Korea, saying the US hopes to "see the leader of North Korea take responsible actions for peace" in the region.

"The world would be better served" if Korean leader Kim Jong-un "engages in legitimate dialogue and legitimate negotiations" to resolve concerns about the country's nuclear programme, Kerry said.

Sheikh Hamad touched on the Israel-Palestine peace process, expressing his concerns that "unless there is an agreement to put a timetable ... to end the process, I believe there will be a real crisis and we will all lose hope".

366

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list