US welcomes Syrian Opposition decision to attend Rome talks



Washington: The US has welcomed the Syrian Opposition leaders' decision to attend the Rome Summit, as it insisted that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go.

Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib has said that the opposition groups will attend the Friends of Syria conference in Rome on February 28.

US Vice President Joe Biden called al-Khatib to discuss the Friends of the Syrian People meeting in Rome, the White House said today.

He welcomed Khatib's confirmation that Coalition members would attend the gathering and meet Secretary of State John Kerry.

"He emphasized the importance of the meeting as a venue for the Coalition to share its views on the situation in Syria with the international community and to confer with FOSP members on ways to speed assistance to the opposition and support to the Syrian people," the White House said. Biden emphasised President Barack Obama's commitment to a political transition in Syria to a democratic and inclusive post-Assad government that protects the rights of all its citizens.

The White House insisted that the Assad regime must go.

"We are working with the Syrian opposition and with our allies toward a future for Syria that allows the Syrian people to decide what their government looks like and provides a brighter and more democratic future for the people of Syria," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

"That future cannot include Bashar al-Assad, who has long since forsaken any opportunity he might have had to participate in Syria's future. He has so much blood on his hands. He has been engaging in a prolonged assault on his own people that has cost tens of thousands of lives, of innocent civilian lives," he said.

"I think the Syrian opposition has been clear: The future for Syria cannot include Assad. We are working with the Syrian opposition. There will be a meeting later this week of the Syrian opposition with the international community; that will be very important," he said.

"We continue to provide and lead the way in providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people in this effort to help bring about a better future for Syria -- one that does not include President Assad," Carney said.

PTI