Incoming US Secretary of State John Kerry made his feelings on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad plain on Feb 13th, entreating the Syrian leader that he “must end this killing.”
Kerry is currently at work on new diplomatic proposals aimed at unseating Assad — who he knew well before the war broke out, according to the Washington Post — although he notes that such measures may still arrive too late to quell the bloodshed.
“My goal is to see us change his calculation. My goal is to see us have a negotiated outcome and minimize the violence,” Kerry said of Assad, soon after meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
“President Assad has the ability to be able to make the difference here by deciding to engage in a legitimate diplomatic process,” Kerry said to reporters on Feb 14th, prior to a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, according to Xinhua. “He must end this killing.”
Kerry also reflected that there was a certain “inevitability” to Assad’s current situation, but added “that hasn’t sunk into him yet, obviously.”
Kerry’s tone towards Syria mirrors that of US President Barack Obama, who took a hard line on the Syrian despot in his State of the Union address, noting that his administration “will keep the pressure on a Syrian regime that has murdered its own people, and support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian.”
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay announced on Feb 12th that the total death toll in Syria is likely nearing 70,000, and noted that civilians are especially hard-hit by the ongoing violence, Reuters reported.