US’s Obama, Rice meet Syria opposition chief

By Michael Hernandez, Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meeting with Jarba comes as Lakhdar Brahimi, UN's Syria envoy, announces his resignation

Meeting with Jarba comes as Lakhdar Brahimi, UN's Syria envoy, announces his resignation

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor Susan Rice met with Ahmad Jarba, the Syrian Opposition Coalition President, at the White House to reaffirm their support for Jarba and his allies Tuesday.

During their meeting, Obama welcomed the opposition’s leadership, while encouraging “the Coalition to further its vision for an inclusive government that represents all of the people of Syria,” according to a readout of the meeting provided by the White House.

For his part Jarba thanked the U.S. for its $287 million contribution in nonlethal aid, and for being the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people both inside and outside the country.

Both the US and Syrian opposition delegations reaffirmed their support for a political resolution to Syria’s ongoing crisis.

Obama and Rice derided the Syrian government’s plans to hold presidential elections on June 3 “and underscored that the United States stands with the moderate opposition and the Syrian people in their efforts to end the conflict and facilitate a political transition.”

Their meeting comes the same day that Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.’s Syria envoy, announced his resignation after two rounds of Geneva peace talks failed to bring about meaningful change for Syria. He will leave his post at the end of May.

“I applaud his efforts,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of Brahimi while speaking to the press during a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Tuesday. “He patiently and diligently worked to give the parties an opportunity to be able to negotiate in good faith.”

America’s top diplomat further said that Damascus never attempted to negotiate at Geneva under the rules set forth to govern the peace talks.

“This represents the continuation of the stubborn clinging to power of a man who 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,” Kerry said.

Well over 100,000 people have died and almost ten million people have been displaced in the Syrian conflict, which is now in its fourth year.

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