No easy options for ending Syrian violence: White House

2013-02-21 22:53:14 GMT2013-02-22 06:53:14(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Obama administration has been exploring all possible options for ending the violence in Syria, including that of whether to arm the opposition forces, but has found no easy answers, the White House said on Thursday.

Spokesman Jay Carney said the administration has been constantly reviewing "every possible option" that could help end the violence and hasten a political transition with the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.

"The options we have considered include whether the provision of lethal assistance to the opposition would hasten our goal," he told reporters at a regular press briefing. "As we analyze every option, we must assess whether the action will change al-Assad's calculus and hasten a transition to a post-Assad Syria."

"We also must consider whether it will provoke a wider regional conflict and endanger our allies, including Israel, or create a risk that weapons will fall into the hands of extremists," he said.

"There are no easy answers, and the president has said that he wrestles with these decisions," he added.

Calls are growing for arming the Syrian opposition forces both in Washington and foreign capitals with a view to breaking the stalemate, as the conflict in Syria has dragged on for almost two years and claimed nearly 70,000 lives.

"Right now, we are focusing our efforts on helping the opposition become stronger, more cohesive and more organized," Carney said. "It is still our policy that we are providing non- lethal assistance to the opposition."

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will embark on his first foreign trip on Sunday, the Syrian conflict is expected to figure prominently in his talks with dignitaries from Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

And President Barack Obama himself will travel to Israel and Jordan next month, with Syria apparently on his mind.

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