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US and Britain cling to diplomacy as way forward on Syria (+video)

At the White House, the US and British leaders called talks with Russia 'very constructive,' but Obama cautioned that given 'what we’re seeing in Syria, it’s very hard to put things back together.'

David Cameron the conflict in Syria
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The challenges the United States and its closest allies face in finding a way to end the violence in Syria were on full display Monday in Washington, with President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron emphasizing the need for diplomacy while expressing doubts about how much it can accomplish.

The US government, Mr. Obama said at a joint news conference at the White House, remains “very persistent” in its efforts to broker a political transition that leads to the “departure” of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

That said, “I’m not promising that it’s going to be successful,” Obama warned. “Frankly, sometimes once sort of the furies have been unleashed in a situation like what we’re seeing in Syria, it’s very hard to put things back together.”

Mr. Cameron for his part decried the “brutal conflict” that has left some 80,000 dead and more than five million displaced.

“Syria’s history is being written in the blood of her people, and it is happening on our watch,” he added.

Both leaders called recent talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin “very constructive.” The West would like Mr. Putin to encourage Assad to come to the negotiating table.

Cameron went so far as to call Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent talks with Putin, with whom he reached an agreement for an American-Russian peace conference on Syria, a “breakthrough” in an interview with National Public Radio.

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