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Kerry plays down 'tactics' differences on Syria

Nov. 3, 2013 6:29 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 4, 2013 10:24 A.M.)
CAIRO (AFP) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that Washington and its allies may differ over "tactics" on the Syrian conflict but they shared the goal of a handover of power.

The top US diplomat was speaking at the start of an 11-day tour aimed at shoring up ties with Arab nations that have frayed in part over the war in Syria.

After a brief stopover in Cairo, Kerry was to head later Sunday for Saudi Arabia which has sent public signals of its disquiet over what is seen as hesitant US policy in ending the 31-month conflict.

Riyadh, one of the main backers of the Syrian opposition, was reportedly angered when US President Barack Obama last month put on hold threatened military strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"There are some countries ... that wanted the United States to do one thing in respect to Syria and we have done something else," Kerry acknowledged during a joint press conference with Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy.

But he insisted: "Those differences on individual tactics on policy do not mean a difference on (the) fundamental goal of the policy.

"We all share the same goal ... that is the salvation of the state of Syria and a transition government put in place...that can give the people of Syria the opportunity to choose their future."

Kerry, working with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, has been trying to convene peace talks in Geneva aimed at bringing in a transitional government in Syria.

"We also believe that Assad by virtue of his loss of moral authority cannot be part of that ... Nobody can answer how you can actually end the war as long as Assad is there," he stressed.

Major groups in the Syrian opposition have so far refused to sit down with members of the Assad regime, insisting he must go first.

But the US is working to unify the opposition, and it is hoping that the so-called Geneva II talks can be held in late November.
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