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Obama meets Syrian opposition leader

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Washington: US President Barack Obama has met Syrian Opposition leader Ahmad Jarba at the White House and lend his support to their fight for democracy and protection of human rights.

According to the White House, Obama joined National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s meeting with Jarba and the Coalition delegation yesterday, during which the two top American leaders reaffirmed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy to rule Syria and has no place in Syria’s future.

“Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to a political solution to the conflict that includes a transition to a new governing authority,” the White House said.

Obama welcomed the Coalition’s leadership and constructive approach to dialogue, and encouraged the Coalition to further its vision for an inclusive government that represents all people of Syria.

Jarba thanked Obama for US non-lethal assistance, which totals USD 287 million and supports the Coalition, local communities inside Syria, and the moderate armed opposition.

He also thanked the US for being the largest donor of humanitarian assistance.

The USD 1.7 billion committed by the US goes to those in need inside of Syria and in neighbouring countries, the statement said.

The White House said Obama and Rice condemned the Assad regime’s deliberate targeting of Syrian civilians through aerial bombardments—including the use of barrel bombs—and the denial of food and humanitarian assistance to civilians located in areas under siege by the regime.

“They emphasised the responsibility of the Syrian regime to provide rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian assistance.

The delegations also discussed the risks posed by growing extremism in Syria and agreed on the need to counter terrorist groups on all sides of the conflict,” it said.

“Obama and Rice emphasised the illegitimacy of the regime’s plans to hold elections and underscored that the United States stands with the moderate opposition and the Syrian people in their efforts to end the conflict and facilitate a political transition,” the White House said.

The Secretary of State, John Kerry, told reporters at the State Department that Obama is continuing to support the moderate opposition.

“He has increased the support to the moderate opposition, as have others, with a belief that we need to get to a negotiation at some point in time,” he said.

“And when the parties are ready to negotiate, then a mediator will have a chance to be able to help them do so, and everyone can succeed by giving the people of Syria an opportunity to reclaim their future,” he said at a joint press conference with the Italian Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini.

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