Carney: Russia taking step forward on Syria

Russia's recent assertion of support for the Geneva Communique and the transition to a Syrian government without Bashar al-Assad represents a step forward, the White House said on Thursday.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. had been disappointed with Russia's support for the Assad regime and its veto of resolutions at the U.N. Security Council. Through consistent engagement with Russia on the issue, the conversations have continued about Russia's vision of a Syrian future. Carney said the fact that Russia agreed to take part in the Syrian transition process is a positive development.

"We do view it as a step forward, the fact that Russia, with the United States, recommitted to the Geneva Framework to a political transition, and we will continue work on that basis towards what we believe ultimately has to happen, which is a political transition to a post-Assad Syria," Carney said.

Carney would not comment on recent reports that Russia may be preparing to sell air defense systems to Syria. He said the U.S. has consistently called on Russia to cut off the Assad regime's supply of Russian weapons, including air defense systems.

"I don't have any specific comment on the reports about those arms sales," Carney said. "I did make my points about our view of Russia providing further weaponry to the Assad regime. When it comes to the options the President is consistently reviewing in our effort to support the opposition in Syria, that process is ongoing. A lot of factors are taken into account."

Carney reaffirmed that the most important part of the Syrian transition is making governmental decisions that move toward a non-violent, post-Assad future.

"What I said the other day remains true today -- and that is that it's very important to make sure that we make policy decisions that help achieve the goal that we seek, which is a transition to a post-Assad Syria and that we do not make decisions that inadvertently cause more chaos or more violence in Syria," Carney said. "And that's why we are very deliberate about our assessments of the options that are on the table."