U.S. State Secretary John Kerry Calls for End to Assad Dictatorship

Kerry also insists s nuclear Iran is unacceptable as he embarks on an 11-day, nine-nation trip through Europe and the Middle East, which officials have dubbed 'a listening tour.'

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday launched his first trip abroad since taking office this month by sharply criticizing the Syrian military's indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians" and renewing Washington's call for an end to Bashar Assad's dictatorship.

The recent new round of military backed-violence in Syria's second-biggest city was evidence enough that "Assad must step down," Kerry told a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London.

Kerry also urged Syria's opposition to attend a planned international meeting in Rome this week, which the opposition pulled out of in protest at the international community's silence on the continuing bloodshed. Kerry was speaking after he held talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the start of an 11-day, nine-nation trip through Europe and the Middle East, which officials in Washington have dubbed "a listening tour."

"This is no accident that this is the first stop of my trip as secretary of state," Kerry said, stressing the strong partnership between London and Washington. Cameron and Kerry used their meeting in Downing Street to discuss plans for a free trade agreement between the US and Europe. However, Kerry declined to comment at the press conference on next month's referendum on whether the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands will remain British.

Kerry insisted that an Iran with nuclear weapons was unacceptable. Both Kerry and Hague also discussed the situation in Mali. Hague stepped up his call for efforts to kick-start peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. "There is no more urgent foreign policy priority in 2013 than restarting negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians," he said. After London, Kerry is to hold talks in Berlin on Tuesday with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle before flying on to Paris and Rome.

On Tuesday in Berlin, Kerry was to meet for the first time with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Relations between Washington and Moscow have been strained recently after the Kremlin blocked efforts in the United Nations to take further action on Syria. Moscow has also banned US adoptions of Russian children amid criticism from Washington about Russia's human rights record.

Kerry's trip will also take him to the Middle East and North Africa, where his talks are expected to focus on the political crisis in Egypt. His visit represents the first occasion that Washington's key allies get to see how Kerry intends to approach his new job as the US' top diplomat, as well as the foreign policy priorities of President Barack Obama's second term. Kerry's predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, visited a record number of countries as secretary of state during Obama's first term. Obama won a second term in November and was sworn into office in January.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in LondonCredit: AFP

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott