LONDON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried Monday to patch back together a conference with Syrian opposition leaders that was to be the centerpiece of his debut overseas trip, urging Syrian rebel leaders not to boycott the meeting and insisting that more help is on the way in their fight against President Bashar Assad.
Kerry not only made a public plea at a joint news conference Monday with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, he also called Moaz Khatib, leader of the Syrian Opposition Council, “to encourage him to come to Rome,” a senior U.S. official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Kerry was in London for the first leg of his first trip as secretary of state — a hectic nine-country dash through Europe and the Middle East. The trip includes a Syrian opposition conference Thursday in Rome, which some members of the sharply divided Syrian opposition council have threatened to boycott.
Kerry also dispatched his top Syrian envoy to Cairo in hopes of convincing opposition leaders that their participation in the conference in Rome is critical to addressing questions from potential donors and securing additional aid from the United States and Europe. (read more)