Kerry issues Russia with warning over arming Syrian regime

Published June 1st, 2013 - 06:52 GMT
US Secretary of State John Kerry.
US Secretary of State John Kerry.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia not to provide embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime with an advanced air defense system that he said could prolong Syria’s civil war.

Kerry, speaking after talks with his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, said Russia’s transfer of the S-300 missiles was not “not helpful” and could “endanger” efforts of both Washington and Moscow to get the Syrian government and opposition into peace negotiations.

Kerry also said that Russia sending the sophisticated air defense system to Assad was “totally wrong,” and could put U.S. ally, Israel, at a security risk.

Kerry and Westerwelle spoke a day after Assad claimed his regime received a first shipment of the state-of-the-art anti-aircraft system, which would make foreign intervention in Syria’s war more difficult.

Kerry also said that it was unacceptable for Syria’s ally in the region, Iran, to have nuclear weapons.

The secretary of state said that he did not have high expectations that an upcoming presidential election in Iran would change the calculus over Tehran’s nuclear program, repeating it was unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

International patience was waning over the nuclear program that Tehran says is meant for peaceful purposes, he warned. “Every month that goes by gets more dangerous.”

Meanwhile, Westerwelle said more diplomatic talks were necessary.

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