Friends of Syria meet in London, discuss increasing opposition support

Published May 15th, 2014 - 12:17 GMT

Arab and Western foreign ministers and leaders met Thursday in London to discuss new strategies to support Syria's opposition, according to Agence France Presse.

The "Friends of Syria," a group of Western and Arab nations backing Syria's rebels, met in London weeks ahead of Syria's so-called presidential elections and days after UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, resigned from his post. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who participated in the meeting, has blamed the state of Syria and Brahimi's recent resignation on President Bashar Al Assad "who will not negotiate, who absolutely refused to negotiate at every single session [of peace talks in Switzerland earlier this year]."

In reference to the June 3 Syrian elections, Kerry also added that Assad "is willing to drop barrel bombs on his people, to gas them, to shell artillery on innocent civilians, to starve people in their homes, and somehow claim a right to be able to run a country".

British Prime Minister David Cameron backed Kerry's commentary earlier this week as well, saying that "Assad can't be part of Syria's future."

Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba, who recently completed a trip to Washington to meet with Kerry and U.S. President Barack Obama to request more military aid for Syria's rebels, also participated in Thursday's meeting in London. 

"Keeping the pressure on the regime will increase the chances of finding a political solution," Jarba said in a statement.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also told AFP: "There is broad agreement we need to redouble our efforts in Syria. And whether that is providing more assistance to the opposition, addressing the humanitarian crisis or putting more pressure on the Syrian regime -- it is going to take the weight of the international community -- today is an opportunity to discuss."

Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States are all members of the Friends of Syria group.

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