'US has to negotiate with Assad regime:' Kerry

'We have to negotiate in the end,' Kerry said on Saturday speaking to CBS news.

'US has to negotiate with Assad regime:' Kerry


The U.S. "have to negotiate in the end" with Syrian Bashar al-Assad, Secretary of State John Kerry told U.S. network CBS News in an interview on Sunday.

Despite the usual Washington line that Assad had lost his legitimacy and has to go in order to establish peace in the warn-torn country, Kerry seemed to change tack during the TV interview.

"We have to negotiate in the end," Kerry said.

"What we're pushing for is to get him to come and do that, and it may require that there be increased pressure on him of various kinds in order to do that. We've made it very clear to people that we are looking at increased steps that can help bring about that pressure," he said.

Kerry said that along with the other countries -- which he did not name -- the U.S. was looking to find ways to reignite the diplomatic process to end the conflict in Syria, which has entered its fifth year.

"To get the Assad regime to negotiate, we're going to have to make it clear to him that there is a determination by everybody to seek that political outcome and change his calculation about negotiating," Kerry said.

"That's under way right now. And I am convinced that, with the efforts of our allies and others, there will be increased pressure on Assad.”

However, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf tweeted after Kerry's remarks: "Kerry repeated long-standing policy that we need negotiated process w/regime at table - did not say we wld negotiate directly w/Assad."

"Policy remains [the] same and is clear: there's no future for Assad in Syria," another tweet by Harf said.

Syria has been gripped by fighting since the regime launched a violent crackdown in response to anti-government protests in March, 2011 triggering a conflict that has spiraled into a civil war.

The war has left tens of thousands of people dead and millions of others displaced both internally and externally.

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