Obama says considering new pressure on Syria's Assad

Published February 15th, 2014 - 07:58 GMT

The United States is considering further steps to put pressure on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, President Barack Obama said on Friday.

“We don’t expect to solve this any time in the short term so there are going to be some immediate steps that we have to take to help the humanitarian situation there,” Obama said at a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

“There will be some intermediate steps that we can take to apply more pressure to the Assad regime.”

An emboldened President Bashar al-Assad has missed two deadlines to turn over his deadliest chemical weapons, as part of a deal struck by U.S. and Russia following an Aug. 21 nerve agent attack near Damascus that Washington believes claimed more than 1,400 lives.

 The disarmament plan was originally hatched as part of Russia’s efforts to shield Syrian President al-Bashar Assad’s regime from U.S.-led military strikes that Obama threatened after the attack.

The third round of peace talks between Syrian opposition and regime delegations in Geneva last week has made no progress, Faisal Mokdad, the country’s deputy foreign minister said Friday.

 “We deeply regret that this round did not make any progress,” Mokdad told reporters, as both sides traded blame over the deadlock in the second round of the Geneva talks which started Monday.

 “We have done our best” on humanitarian access but some statements by U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos are “absolutely unacceptable,” Mokdad said, according to Reuters.

 Speaking separately just minutes earlier, Louay Safi the Syrian opposition spokesperson complained about the other side’s failure to budge.

 “The negotiations have reached an impasse,” Safi said.

 “If this situation does not change .. It means that the negotiations are not moving towards a political solution. We are now awaiting serious progress,” he added.

 Meanwhile, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, accused backers of the Syrian opposition of seeking “regime change” and said the creation of a transitional governing body must not be the sole focus of peace talks in Geneva.




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