Background Briefing on Syria

Special Briefing
Senior Department Official
Senior Official
St. Petersburg, Russia
June 29, 2012

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So before we sat down to dinner, the two ministers spent almost an hour one-on-one talking about Syria. They were talking, first and foremost, about preparing the meeting in Geneva tomorrow.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: They talked through all of the remaining areas of difficulty and difference. There are still areas of difficulty and difference. But out of respect to Kofi, they agreed that we should all go to Geneva tomorrow to try to produce a result. We may get there tomorrow. We may not.

In addition to talking about this political transition roadmap and the importance of that, they also talked more broadly about Syria. And the question was: Why do we need to care about Syria? And it’s not simply about the suffering of the Syrian people and the danger that the country itself will unravel, but the Secretary made the point that there are real dangers for the wider region. We’ve seen the tensions between Syria and Turkey just this week. We’ve seen the impact on Lebanon. You could have a seriously destabilizing impact on Jordan. You could have an impact on Israel. So it’s really incumbent upon the Security Council members and regional states to exercise leadership and do what we can to help end the violence and get to a political transition.

The rest of the dinner – when we sat down to dinner, the rest of the dinner was a whole host of other issues which we can go through later – Middle East peace, all of the bilateral issues, strengthening – following up on the President’s meeting with President Putin, et cetera. We’ll go over those later.

QUESTION: Thank you.

PRN: 2011/T67-12