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Saturday, May 2, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY'S REMARKS WITH SYRIAN OPPOSITION COUNCIL PRESIDENT KHOJA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Remarks With Syrian Opposition Council President Khaled Khoja
Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 30, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I’m very pleased to welcome the president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, President Khoja. And we’re very happy to be able to talk today about, obviously, a very compelling and tragic situation.

The situation on the ground in Syria and in the communities around it is simply unsustainable, catastrophic. It has a profound impact – negative – on each of the surrounding communities, particularly Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, but especially on the people of Syria. Three quarters of the population of Syria is now displaced people – and many of them, at least half, internally within Syria itself. Whole communities have been destroyed. Children, innocent medical personnel, women have barrel bombs dropped on them from the sky. This is a regime that has lost all sense of any kind of responsibility to its own people, and that is why there must be a transition from the Assad regime towards a government that represents all the people and can repair this extraordinary damage to Syria, unite the country, protect all minorities, and provide a legitimate future.

The other part of the problem is that as Assad is busy destroying the country in his own interests, he is enabling and attracting terrorists to the country who are having a further negative impact on the region. That’s why he has lost all legitimacy with respect to his ability to be able to be a part of the long-term future of the country.

So we will talk about this today. The Syrian opposition continues to fight difficult odds. They have agreed to be part of UN talks that will take place over the course of the next weeks and month. And we very much hope that in the immediate days ahead, that people will be able to find a new path by which to create an outcome that will restore the secular, united nature of Syria and be able to prevent this extraordinary humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding before the world’s eyes.

So, Mr. President, I welcome you here, delighted to have you, and I look forward to our conversation.

PRESIDENT KHOJA: (Via interpreter) I am here to thank the United States for its continued support to the Syrian people in its endeavor to achieve its – to realize its goals to freedom, democracy, and pluralism. The U.S. has given the Syrian people an excess of $3 billion in assistance and it has stood by the Syrian coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. I will be discussing with the Secretary of State the latest developments in Syria with regards to – on the political and military levels, and we are here also to ask the assistance of the U.S. in establishing safe havens in liberated areas. As Mr. Secretary has pointed out, President Assad has no legitimacy and he is not part of the future of Syria. And for that reason he needs to be prosecuted and subjected to fair trial for the crimes he has committed against the Syrian people.

Once again, I would like to thank the Secretary for this opportunity. Thank you.