(MENAFN - Arab News) US Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Syrian regime it would fail to divert next week's peace talks away from the aim of installing a new government
Accusing Syrian President Bashar Assad of funding and even ceding territory to extremists in order to fuel fears of militant groups, Kerry said "nobody is going to be fooled.
"They can bluster, they can protest, they can put out distortions, the bottom line is we are going to Geneva to implement Geneva I, and if Assad doesn't do that he will invite greater response," he said
Kerry will lead a US delegation to Switzerland next week for peace talks between the Syrian government and fighters.
His comments also come as Syrian opposition groups vote on whether to attend the UN-sponsored talks in Montreux
"I believe, as we begin to get to Geneva and begin to get into this process, that it will become clear that there is no political solution whatsoever if Assad is not discussing a transition and if he thinks he's going to be part of that future. It's not going to happen," Kerry said
The international community was "not out of options" for increasing the pressure on Assad, Kerry warned
"I'm not particularly, you know, surprised that he is trying to divert this. He's been doing this for months, trying to make himself the protector of Syria against extremists," Kerry said of Assad
Kerry accused the Syrian leader of even "funding some of those extremists, even purposefully ceding some territory to them in order to make them more of a problem so he can make the argument that he is somehow the protector against them.
Kerry said: "Nobody's going to be fooled. We're not going to be fooled by this process.