White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday said President Obama was “unwavering” in his efforts to end Syria's civil war and disputed a report suggesting Secretary of State John Kerry believed the administration's policy was not working.
Asked if Obama still backed the ongoing Geneva peace talks aimed at brokering a resolution to the Syrian civil war between President Bashar Assad and opposition forces, Carney said “absolutely.”
“It is absolutely necessary to press for a negotiated political resolution,” Carney added. “There is no other alternative.”
A report in the Washington Post said that Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., had spoken with Kerry and that he acknowledged to them that the Geneva talks were not producing results and that Damascus was slow-walking compliance with an international agreement to disarm their chemical arsenal.
Graham also said that Kerry was open to arming rebel groups seeking the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Washington Post reported.
“I think the stories you're referring to actually appear to be a reflection of what Sens. McCain and Graham think of our Syria policy, not what Secretary Kerry thinks,” Carney told reporters.
Carney read from a State Department statement that “at no point during Secretary Kerry's meeting in Munich with members did he raise lethal assistance for the opposition.”
“This is a case of members projecting what they want to hear and not stating the facts of what was discussed,” he added.
Critics of the administration’s policies point to new evidence of human rights abuses by Syrian government and say more must be done to remove Assad from power.
“The president has spoken about this issue on a number of occasions and his view that we should not be putting American troops on the ground in Syria and that we need to pursue a policy that presses both sides on the basis of the Geneva communique to resolve this conflict through a negotiated settlement,” said Carney.
“There's no other path ultimately for Syria that does not include — or is not driven by a negotiated political settlement,” he added.