LONDON -- U.S. Secretary of State
With a cliffhanger vote to endorse a military strike looming in
“A resolution to this has to come about because the parties are prepared to come and negotiate that political solution,” Kerry said here after meeting his British counterpart. “If one party believes that he can rub out countless numbers of his own citizens with impunity, using chemicals that have been banned for nearly a hundred years because of what Europe learned in
Kerry acknowledged the deep concern of people on both sides of the Atlantic over getting entangled in yet another messy conflict following protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But he repeated the
"We're not talking about war. We're not going to war. We will not have people at risk in that way," Kerry said. "We will be able to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort, in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons, without assuming responsibility for Syria's civil war."
Kerry's comments, at the end of a swing through Europe, came after the release of comments made by Assad in an interview to be aired by CBS. The Syrian leader, speaking to Charlie Rose, dismissed U.S. intelligence concluding that his regime gassed a Damascus neighborhood Aug. 21, resulting in more than 1,400 deaths, and compared it to the false assertion of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a decade ago.
Kerry scoffed right back.
"I'm confident about the state of the evidence," Kerry said. "What does he offer? Words that are contradicted by facts. And he doesn't have a very strong record with respect to this question of credibility."
Standing alongside Kerry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the U.S. still commanded his country’s “full diplomatic support” regarding Syria even though Prime Minister
The surprising vote late last month embarrassed Cameron, who had urged a military response, and triggered the latest bout of anxiety here over whether the U.S. still considered Britain its B.F.F. or whether the "special relationship" between Washington and London was on the wane.
Kerry and Hague insisted that it was not. Hague called the U.S. "our closest ally," and Kerry hastened to soothe any ruffled British feathers over his recent description of France, which supports military action against Syria, as the U.S.' "oldest ally."
"The relationship between the United States and Britain has often been described as special, essential, and it has been described thusly quite simply because it is. It was before a vote the other day in Parliament, and it will be for long afterwards," Kerry said.
"Our bond ... is bigger than one vote; it's bigger than one moment in history," Kerry added. "We have no better partner in that effort than Great Britain, and we're grateful for that."