The Syrian National Coalition said Monday that it was ready to attend an international conference in Rome after first vowing to boycott the meeting in protest of the indifference shown by several nations at the violence from Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
Making a public plea to the main Syrian opposition, US Secretary of Stateurged opposition leader, Moaz al-Khatib, to attend the Roman conference. Kerry and al-Khatib later held private talks in which the newly appointed secretary made another attempt to convince the leader, according to a senior US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"We will go and we will see if the promises are different this time," spokesman for the Syrian Opposition Coalition announced.
Kerry had sent his top diplomat to Cairo to hold talks with opposition leaders and meanwhile he flew to Berlin from London, his first stop in his first overseas tour as the secretary of state.
"We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind, wondering where the support is, if it is coming," Kerry told reporters in London after meeting British Prime Minister and Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague. "We are not going to let the Syrian opposition not have its ability to have its voice properly heard in this process."
Al-Khatib said that he is looking forward to hearing from Damascus too, after the so-called peace proposal by Assad, which declared that his government believes reforms will not come from bloodshed, but only through dialogue. Al-Khatib responded by telling reporters in Cairo: "We have not been in contact yet, and we are waiting for communication with them."
Adding his voice to the concern, Hague said that the violence in Syria has accelerated to unacceptable levels and the Syrian citizens are suffering too much injustice at the hands of the Assad regime.
"In the face of such murder and threat of instability, our policy cannot stay static as the weeks go by," Hague, standing beside Kerry, told reporters. "We must significantly increase support for the Syrian opposition. We are preparing to do just that."
Agreeing, Kerry said, “We are not coming to Rome simply to talk, we are coming to Rome to talk about next steps."
He added that the opposition’s complaints that they were not getting the support they need to defend themselves or to oust Assad from power were justified.