US envoy to Syria to hit road in push for progress
The newly appointed US special envoy for Syria will travel to Geneva, Moscow and Riyadh this week as American efforts to find a political solution to the conflict intensify, the State Department said Wednesday.
Michael Ratney will meet Russian, Saudi and UN officials "to try to come up with options for some sort of political process, a political process that we know is going to have to include opposition groups and try to work through what that means and what that`s going to look like," State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
"I`m not going to speak for the Russians, but I`ll state it again as clearly as I can: There`s not going to be a military solution to this. That is the United States government`s position. That is Secretary (John) Kerry`s position."
Ratney, who has previously worked for the State Department in Jerusalem, Doha and other cities in the Middle East, was appointed to his current post in July.
The United States has stepped up efforts in recent weeks to find an end to the four-year Syrian crisis, including at an August 3 meeting in Doha between Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
That was followed by another meeting between Kerry and Lavrov on August 5 in Kuala Lumpur and one Monday in Massachusetts between the top US diplomat and Jubeir -- all focused on the Syrian conflict.
"The secretary wants to continue to explore options with the Russians and with Saudi Arabia on what those political options might look like," Kirby said.
Russia, along with Iran, has supported Damascus, while the US and Saudi Arabia have supported moderate portions of the Syrian opposition.
On August 17, for the first time in two years, the UN Security Council, including Russia, agreed to a statement in favor of a push for a political solution.