KERRY: ARMS SUPPLIES REACHING THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN SYRIA

Syrian rebel forces now have tanks

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.”

Read more at Al Jazeera.

 

KERRY IN TURKEY TO TALK ABOUT SYRIA BUT ISRAEL MAY OVERSHADOW THE AGENDA

Secretary of State John Kerry is in Turkey today to discuss with Prime Minister Erdogan the continuing crisis in Syria. Both nations are on the same side of this issue, though there may be some differences on how to address it. But while that’s on the official agenda, Israel may be a more important issue.

That’s because the meeting follows Erdogan’s comments labeling Zionism “a crime against humanity.”

Read more at the New York Times.

MOVE TOWARD PEACE IN SYRIA?

By TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON – Russia’s Tass news agency is reporting the Assad regime is prepared to talk to Syria’s armed opposition. The opposition Syrian National Coalition has said that Assad must step down and not be part of any settlement.

This is happening as a backdrop to Secretary of State John Kerry’s first official overseas trip. He is in London today as American officials struggling to salvage an important meeting scheduled Thursday in Rome with the Syrian opposition. The Assad opponents are threatening to boycott a conference to protest what they see as fainthearted international support. The US provides nonlethal assistance to the opposition and there’s considerable controversy in the United States over increasing that support.

Kerry has raised expectation by saying he had new ideas on how to change Assad’s calculations that he could stay in power. Kerry hasn’t publicly explained them, but they appear to include marshaling support from Russia.

 

KERRY UPCOMING EUROPE, MIDDLE EASTERN TRIP SKIPS ISRAEL

From February 24 to March 6, Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, the State Department says.

The secretary will travel first to London where he will meet with senior British officials to discuss the range of bilateral and global issues on which we are closely coordinating. He will then visit Berlin where he will hold bilateral meetings on issues of mutual interest, as well as make a number of public appearances including an exchange of views with German young people on the state of European-American relations, according to the announcement. Kerry lived in Berlin as a child.

He will then travel to Paris with senior French officials to discuss ongoing US cooperation as part of the international effort to support Mali as well as other issues of regional and global importance.

In Rome he will meet with senior Italian government officials and participate in a number of bilateral and multilateral meetings with our European allies to review the wider trans-Atlantic relationship and to discuss issues of global concern. While in Rome,  Kerry will participate in multilateral meetings on Syria and with the leadership of the Syrian Opposition Coalition.

He will then travel to Ankara where he will meet with Turkish officials to discuss  strategic priorities – from ending the crisis in Syria to promoting regional stability, peace, and security – as well as explore areas to deepen US-Turkey bilateral cooperation, including counter-terrorism cooperation, State says.

In Cairo, Kerry will meet with senior Egyptian officials, other political leaders, civil society leaders, and the business community to encourage greater political consensus and moving forward on economic reforms. While in Cairo, the secretary will also meet with Arab League Secretary General Al-Araby to consult on our many shared challenges across the region.

Kerry will then travel to Riyadh to meet with the Saudi leadership and discuss cooperation on a broad range of shared concerns. He will also participate in a ministerial meeting with counterparts from Gulf Cooperation Council nations. He will then visit Abu Dhabi to meet with senior officials and discuss our continued close coordination on issues of mutual interest.

The secretary will conclude his trip in Doha, where he will meet with Qatari leadership to discuss shared bilateral and regional issues of concern such as the ongoing crisis in Syria, Afghanistan and Middle East peace.