London, May 9 (IANS) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have no role in a political settlement to Syria’s conflict, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.
The statement came after reports said the US was softening its insistence on Assad’s departure as a precondition for any deal, as demanded by rebels, BBC reported.
Speaking to reporters in Rome, Kerry said Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh would work with the US to “effect a transition government by mutual consent of both sides, which clearly means that in our judgement President Assad will not be a component of that transitional government”.’
Jordan said Syrian refugees now make up 10 percent of its population, and that by the end of the year the figure could reach 25 percent.
Kerry announced a further $100 million in aid for Syrian refugees, $43 million of which would go to Jordan.
The secretary of state also said there had been a “very positive response” to the US-Russian proposal for an international conference on Syria.
The conference was announced after Kerry held talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The forum will try to persuade both the Syrian government and opposition to accept a solution based on an immediate cessation of violence and the establishment of a transitional government that could include officials serving under Assad and members of the opposition.
“We are going to forge ahead very, very directly to work with all of the parties to bring that conference together,” BBC quoted Kerry as saying Thursday.
More than 70,000 people are estimated to have been killed since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011.
Nearly 1.5 million Syrians have fled their country, and as many as four million are thought to have been internally displaced, according to UN estimates.