Kerry: Syria Opposition Must Join Peace Talks
Both sides must accept future leader, he says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 17, 2014 3:50 AM CST
Secretary of State John Kerry talks about Syria at the State Department yesterday.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – John Kerry has urged the Syrian opposition to attend next week's peace conference in Switzerland, saying any individual chosen to lead a political transition in the war-torn country must be acceptable to both the government and opposing forces.The opposition groups, which will vote today whether to attend the peace conference, say it should lead to a transitional government that would see Syrian President Bashar Assad step down and end four decades of his family's rule in Syria. The government rejects the demand and says Assad may run for re-election.

Kerry also slammed the Syrian government, which has long said that the conference should focus on fighting terrorism. He said the Assad regime is to blame for instability in the country that had attracted extremists from around the world. "The world needs no reminder that Syria has become the magnet for jihadists and extremists," he said. "It is the strongest magnet for terror of any place today. So it defies logic to imagine that those whose brutality created this magnet, how they could ever lead Syria away from extremism and towards a better future is beyond any kind of logic or common sense."