Kerry, allies urge Syrian regime to participate in talks

AMMAN, Jordan — The United States and several key allies looked again Wednesday for a strategy to end Syria’s civil war, their united efforts unable at the moment to stem the Assad regime’s military gains and Washington still unwilling to join those providing the rebels with lethal military aid.

Secretary of State John Kerry said President Obama will not send American troops to Syria. But he made clear that more aid to the rebels would be coming if the regime refuses to cooperate with an international effort — to be put together in June in Geneva — to form a transitional government.

‘‘In the event that we can’t find that way forward, in the event that the Assad regime is unwilling to negotiate in Geneva in good faith, we will also talk about our continued support, growing support for opposition in order to permit them to continue to fight for the freedom of their country,’’ Kerry said at a news conference with Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh of Jordan.


The two later joined nine of their colleagues from Europe and the Arab world in Amman, alongside Syrian opposition leaders George Sabra and General Salim Idris to plot a path forward. There, the United States and its partners sought to convince Syria’s rebels of the need to participate in any peace effort.

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‘‘The only alternative to a negotiated settlement,’’ Kerry said at the news conference, ‘‘is more killing, is more innocent civilian deaths, more chaos, more instability in part of the world that has already suffered too much. That path would lead to a lot more families being torn apart, to a lot more refugees crossing the borders. It is a path that would lead, potentially, to the splitting apart of Syria itself.’’

Wednesday’s meeting came after several weeks of military gains by the Assad regime, including the reopening of a key southern highway to Jordan and a push into a strategic rebel-held western town over the weekend.

Such successes will probably harden Assad’s position in any peace talks. The Syrian leader has said that he will not step down, and that Syria’s political future must be determined in elections. More than 70,000 Syrians have been killed since March 2011.