Background Briefing on Syria

Special Briefing
Senior Administration Official
En route London, United Kingdom
February 24, 2013

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So, on background, Senior Administration Official.

The Syrian opposition leadership is under severe pressure now from its membership, from the Syrian people, to get more support from the international community. And in that context, there’s quite a bit of internal discussion about the value of going in international conferences.

The point that we’re trying to make, and what we’re stressing in all of our conversations with them, and what our partners and allies are stressing, is that we – they have an opportunity in Rome, with the meeting that the Italians have offered to host, to see the very countries that have been their greatest supporters, and to come and present to all of us how they see the situation on the ground, both in security terms, humanitarian terms, and in political terms and economic terms, and to make the case for where they are in terms of the support we’re giving them, what more they think they need and why, so that we can all consult and understand the needs.

So, Robert Ford will be going tonight to Cairo to see the Syrian Opposition Coalition in advance of the planned meeting in Rome. And he and Assistant Secretary Jones will also be in Rome early. And we will make our case that this meeting is --

QUESTION: Sorry. So, then, Beth Jones is going to Cairo with Ford?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Ford is going to Cairo tonight, and then Ford will go on to Rome a day or two early, and Assistant Secretary Jones will meet him there. And we will continue to make our case that we believe that this meeting is an opportunity for them. It’s also an opportunity for them to meet our new Secretary of State, to speak directly to him. They’re obviously going to have to make their decision, but we very much hope that we’ll have an opportunity to hear from them and to work with them going forward.

PRN: 2013/T01-01