U.S. encourages meeting between Syria and opposition in Geneva
Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the State Department, said that even though Secretary of State John Kerry wanted to organize the meeting about the Syrian conflict by late May, there are many factors that will likely push the meeting to early June. Psaki said Kerry spoke with multiple stakeholders in the Syrian situation since the announcement of the meeting was made last week.
"The goal here is, of course, to get representatives of both sides to the table," Psaki said. "We don't have yet a list of who those people would be. That's not something we are predetermining. But that's part of the conversations that are taking place leading up to this international conference."
When asked if the meeting would wait until after Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama meet on June 17 and June 18, Psaki said the goal is to have the meeting as soon as possible.
"The stakes are so high," Psaki said. "We're moving in a direction where the alternative is horrific - continuing bloodshed, continuing suffering from the people of Syria - and he felt we needed to act and put this conference together while also taking multilateral approaches as quickly as possible."
Psaki also responded to a question about the U.N.'s need to get into Syria to gather evidence of chemical weapons and past the refusal of Bashar al-Assad's regime. When asked if the State Department saw any kind of urgency on the chemical issue, Psaki said the regime has no reason to hide if it's been telling the truth.
"We absolutely see urgency," Psaki said. "We couldn't agree more that if the regime has nothing to hide, there's no reason for them to keep the U.N. inspection team out of Syria. At the same time, we're working with our allies and partners in the region to gather and share information."