I thank Joint Special Representative Brahimi for his efforts to bring the regime, the opposition, and the international community together for this important meeting at an important time.
We have long underscored that there is no military solution to the violence in Syria that has taken more than 100,000 lives and displaced millions. The conference on January 22 is the best opportunity to implement the Geneva Communiqué and form a new transitional governing body through mutual consent—an important step toward ending the suffering of the Syrian people and the destabilizing impact of this conflict on the region.
This horrific conflict began as a peaceful protest by Syrians who aspire to live in a country where freedom, dignity, and equal treatment under the law are protected. Now, in order to end the bloodshed and give the Syrian people a chance to meet their long-deferred aspirations, Syria needs new leadership.
We are well aware that the obstacles on the road to a political solution are many, and we will enter the Geneva conference on Syria with our eyes wide open. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead. In the coming weeks, the regime and the opposition will need to form their delegations, and we will continue to work in concert with the UN and our partners on remaining issues, including which countries will be invited to attend and what the agenda will be to advance the Geneva Communiqué framework for political transition.
To contain the growing threat from extremism and foreign fighters within Syria, and to ensure respect for Syria’s territorial sovereignty, we cannot delay the work of establishing a transitional government. Since foreign states have considerable influence on the factions waging war within Syria, they too have an important role to play. While it is ultimately up to the Syrian people to form a new government and bring an end to the conflict, the United States and our partners can help get them there.
The thousands of men, women, and children suffering in Syria today cannot wait for us to meet in Geneva for their cries to be heard. The Assad regime must stop using starvation as a weapon of war and immediately begin providing greater humanitarian access to besieged communities. The international community must be proactive and diligent in drawing greater attention to this issue and putting the necessary pressure in place to change behavior on the ground.