But on Monday in London – the first stop of his maiden overseas trip as President Obama’s top diplomat – Kerry said, “The moment is ripe for us to be considering what more we can do.” He added, “We are not coming to Rome simply to talk [but] to talk about next steps.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague also offered a tantalizing preview of the Rome meeting, saying, “We must significantly increase support for the Syrian opposition, [and] we are preparing to do just that.”
The two diplomats’ hints appeared aimed at enticing a broad representation of Syria’s opposition organizations to attend the Rome meeting, being held by the Friends of Syria group of nations. On Saturday, the Syrian National Council (SNC), the largest part of Syria’s political opposition, announced that it was “suspending” its participation in the Rome meeting over what it called the “shameful” international inaction in the face of the Assad regime’s continuing attacks on the Syrian population.
In particular, the SNC cited last week’s bombing in Aleppo that killed dozens and that the opposition said was the result of a government Scud missile attack. The government blamed Al Qaeda-linked insurgents.