Opening Remarks at the London Eleven Plenary Meeting With Qatari Prime Minister Hamad

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Doha, Qatar
June 22, 2013

PRIME MINISTER HAMAD: (Via interpreter) In the name of Allah, most precious, most merciful. Your excellencies, it is my pleasure to welcome you to Doha for this critical meeting which we agreed to hold to explore the ways through which to address the deteriorating situation in Syria. No doubt you are following the development of the tragic events taking place in the Syrian arena. The bloodbath dictated by the regime is continuing. The number of deaths and innocent victims is increasing every day. And the large-scale destruction has become an undeniable fact beside the humanitarian calamity that has befallen the Syrian people, who has largely become either internally displaced or refugees in neighboring and other countries. All of the Arab and international efforts to end the Syrian tragedy has failed, rendering the international community a helpless observer that cannot deal with the situation.

In fact, the regime wouldn’t have been able to easily carry all its bloody policy and murder around and stall all peaceful settlements of the conflict if it were not for the help and support provided to it by very well-known regional and international powers. The less blunt example of that is the interference of Hezbollah of Lebanon, which imposes. And in this regard, the Lebanese Government has to take appropriate actions to stop all interference from Lebanon in the conflict raging in Syria. It is extremely mortifying to hear the news and see evidence about the regime’s unscrupulous use of chemical weapons against its own people.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we can see when we observe the situation in Syria. We think it’s the time that we should shoulder our monumental responsibilities of working to put an end to what is going on in Syria if we want to fulfill our legal and moral obligations, taking into consideration that we cannot wait because of the failure of the Security Council members to reach an agreement and a solution of the crisis. We all know what I said in the meeting of Paris. I said that your countries have moved to respond to many other issues that are less severe and less urgent than the continuing bloodshed in Syria without waiting for the explicit mandate from the Security Council.

We are not talking about the military intervention here. We simply call for intervention to resolve the humanitarian tragedy. And this is to agree on a timeframe, the roadmap that brings about a peaceful solution (inaudible) the struggle of the Syrian opposition forces to establish a political system that guarantees freedom, dignity, and human rights for the Syrian people. This objective cannot be achieved without maintaining force balanced, on the ground, to force the regime to engage in Syria’s negotiations. Therefore, we have to extend all kinds of support toward the forces of the opposition to enable them to reach their legitimate goals and provide generous humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people inside the country and the Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries.

Ladies and gentlemen, the use of force may be necessary to reach rightness. The provision and use of arms might be the only way to achieve peace, especially in the Syrian case. As such, moral support alone shall not be enough to the Syrian people. We have to provide all kinds of support to the national coalition of Syrian revolution and opposition forces and the Supreme Military Council until they become capable of confronting the regime’s forces and the regional and international powers supporting it. It is very important to make it clear to everyone that our call to provide support to the Syrian opposition and its military council is previous from humanitarian objectives, and such support has become essential after the regime has spoiled, through its (inaudible) procrastination and maneuvers, all the sincere efforts to bring about a peaceful solution through which to protect Syria and reach the legitimate aspiration of its people.

We are not against (inaudible) a peaceful settlement and definitely we’ll support the convention of Geneva 2 to come to bring about a peaceful transfer of power in Syria through the formation of a free, authorized transitional government in which Bashar al-Assad and his associated whose hands are stained with blood cannot participate. We announce this; notwithstanding, the regime will do its utmost to prevent the convention of such conference or thwart it if it is held, because what this regime is truly concerned with is not a peaceful transfer of power and an end to the tragedy, but try to continue to scramble for power even if that is at the cost of a million deaths and millions of internally displaced people and refugees and destroy and partitioning Syria.

Before I conclude my speech, I would like to share with you the ideas that have been evolving in my mind as we pass through what I think an historic juncture. No doubt we worked on our positions of responsibility to express the interests of our countries through the resolutions that we adopt at the level of international relations. However, this should not make us ignore the judgment of history with regard to the legacy that we are going to leave for the future generations of our countries and worldwide. Accordingly, we have to do our utmost to serve humanity by the resolutions we take. In this context, I recall the objectives outlined in the introduction of the United Nations Charter, as prescribed as commitments by the nations of the world that governments should implement. Here is where the challenge we are facing lies. Are we ready to accept this challenge for the sake of humanity and the peoples of the world? I sincerely hope that we are, and thank you.

And now I leave the mike to Mr. John Kerry.

SECRETARY KERRY: Your Highness, Mr. Prime Minister and my colleagues, foreign ministers, your highnesses, it’s a privilege to be here with all of you. I want to thank Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim and the state of Qatar and the Emir for their hospitality today. We’re very, very appreciative for the opportunity to gather. I think this is the fourth time we have gathered as a group, from the so-called London 11 supporters, and this is really one of the most important meetings that we’ve had in the course of the number of meetings that have successively set out a set of principles by which we believe the conflict in Syria could, in fact, come to a conclusion.

We are enormously appreciative and thank you for your eloquent statement a few minutes ago. Our discussions here that we have just engaged in and that we will continue will reaffirm the belief of every country represented here and of many countries not represented here that the international community is strongly committed to ending the violence in Syria and to bringing about a peaceful resolution to the crisis. I would emphasize that every state represented here, and many who have spoken and who are not here, have not taken sides for the purpose of winning a conflict or of seeking a military victory; they have supported an opposition in an effort to seek a peaceful resolution where all of the people of Syria choose the future of Syria, where the future for Syria is not chosen by one man representing one family or one group that is willing and content to kill people of all backgrounds and all faiths and all beliefs simply to hold onto power. That is an enormous distinction in what brings us here as a group.

Today’s meeting is an opportunity for us to assess where we are and determine what we can do to further the goal I just stated. Our goal is not to win a victory for power or for one group that has held power for years. Our effort is to allow the people of Syria as a whole, with every minority respected and protected, to be able to choose the future for their country, and to do so in a climate of peace, in an absence of oppression and violence.

The fact is that we have come together to do all we can to create the conditions for the settlement that implements the Geneva 1 communiqué. The formula for a peaceful resolution to the conflict of Syria already exists. It was already agreed to by members – representatives of the United Nations, by the Arab League, by all of the countries here, and others who signed on to a process by which a transitional government would be put in place to end the conflict, that transitional government being chosen by mutual consent of both the Assad regime as well as the opposition, and that that would put in place the ability of the people of Syria to be able to choose their future.

This would be done by mutual consent, which means that both sides would have to be prepared to compromise; both sides would have to be prepared to come to the table to choose people who will protect not one side or the other, but will protect the rights of all Syrians, and most importantly, end the violence and protect the ability to have a peaceful resolution.

That exists; this is Geneva 1. It’s documented, it’s written, it’s been agreed to, and most importantly, the Russians signed on to this. They have agreed to this. And they agreed with me when I was in Moscow meeting with President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. They agreed that the sole purpose of reconvening in Geneva for Geneva 2 – the sole purpose was to implement Geneva 1.

So that’s what brings us here today. And in the coming days, we will have an ability to be able to advance this effort, we hope sooner rather than later, to bring the parties together to end the violence. The opposition is prepared, as long as the circumstances are as defined, to implement Geneva 1 and all of the parties here are prepared to convene in order to end the violence and move to this transition and to the appropriate manner of allowing the people of Syria to choose their future.

In the next days, Under Secretary of State of the United States Wendy Sherman and Ambassador Robert Ford are prepared to go to Geneva. They will meet with Lakhdar Brahimi and with a Russian counterpart, and we will try to move forward from there. This meeting today also gives all of us a chance to discuss the efforts to increase and coordinate support for the Syrian political and military opposition for the purpose of being able to get to Geneva and to be able to address the imbalance on the ground that has occurred.

When this Geneva 2 was announced, Assad responded not by saying, “We welcome this as a way to be able to resolve the crisis of Syria,” but he responded by bringing Iranians into his country – Iranian fighters and advisers – and by bringing Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization, to cross the lines from Lebanon and engage in the fight on the ground. So Assad and the Assad regime’s response to a legitimate global effort to try to have a peace conference was to, in fact, militarize the efforts and internationalize that militarization, and make the region far more dangerous as a consequence. This step by Assad and his regime should concern countries all around the world.

The United States, through President Obama’s initiatives that he has already announced, remain committed to helping the people of Syria. At the recent G-8 Summit, President Obama pledged an additional $300 million in humanitarian assistance, bringing our total commitment to more than $800 million, and we’re proud to say more than any other country with respect to humanitarian aid. And we remain committed to forging – all of the ministers here are committed to forging a lasting political settlement. That is, as I said, laid out in the Geneva communiqué and we hope that in the next days we’ll be able to move to actually implement that.

His Highness, the Prime Minister, could not have said more eloquently what the impact of the current conflict is. Our friend here from Jordan, the Foreign Minister from Jordan, Nasser Judeh, has eloquently spoken about the impact of increasing numbers of refugees and life inside Jordan. While there aren’t camps, there’s an enormous impact of refugees in Lebanon, refugees in Turkey, and it is having a profound destabilizing effect, and one can only ask: What does it mean that almost 4 million people in a country have been driven out by their so-called leader and have to find safety and refuge in other countries?

The continued bloodshed at the hands of the Assad regime and the increasing involvement of Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, threaten the very prospects of a political settlement and of peace. And the regime’s use of chemical weapons crosses President Obama’s and other nations’ red lines. We also condemn – all of us – any atrocity or any excess by any extremists or by any oppositionist group that might engage in it. All of this makes the urgency of the political solution far more compelling.

And that is why the United States and other countries here, in their various ways, each choosing its own approach, will increase the scope and scale of assistance to the political and military opposition. And that is why we are working with our allies gathered here today to coordinate our support for the Syrian coalition and the Supreme Military Council. And I emphasize, we do so not to seek a military solution; we do so to come to the table and find a political settlement. Reliable civilian governance and a stronger and more effective armed opposition will better enable the opposition to be able to provide the counterweight to the initiative of Assad to reach out across borders, trans-boundary, to bring Iranians and to bring Hezbollah – again, a terrorist organization – to the table. We believe that this can help build momentum towards the political negotiations that are so critical here.

Every minister at this table and millions of people in Syria and in the surrounding region hope and pray that we can find a peaceful solution of this conflict so that the Syrian people can have a real potential for transition to their future that provides the prosperous and peaceful and pluralistic, diverse Syria that existed before this conflict began. And it is our hope and prayer that this meeting will help contribute to that end. Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.

PRIME MINISTER HAMAD: Thank you, John. Thank you.

PRN: 2013/T09-02