Kerry expects Syrians to attend transition talks

STOCKHOLM (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a stern warning Tuesday to Syria’s government, saying that new help will be given to opposition forces should President Bashar Assad’s regime decide to back out of upcoming negotiations aimed at ending Syria’s two-year war.

Kerry said he has every expectation that both sides in the conflict, which has left more than 70,000 dead, will participate in an international conference to negotiate a peaceful transition in Syria. The conference, which Kerry said likely will be held in early June, is noteworthy because it will be endorsed by both the U.S. and Russia, which are on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict.

Speaking in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, the top American diplomat rejected suggestions that officials from Assad’s regime will refuse to attend the conference. Earlier Tuesday, Syria’s information minister said the regime wants more details about the proposed initiative before it decides whether to attend.

“If he decides not to come to the table it will be another one of President Assad’s gross miscalculations. Now, I don’t believe that that is the case at this moment,” Kerry told reporters in Stockholm.

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