Entries in Secretary of State John Kerry (3)


White House Working Towards Response After Reported Syria Gassing

Joshua Roberts/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In light of the reported chemical attack in Syria this week, the White House has been busy meeting and discussing possible responses to the alleged actions of President Bashar al-Assad's government.

While Syria is unlikely to grant the U.S. access to facts and evidence, the White House spent most of Friday working to fill in the gaps around the reports. The Syrian opposition has been helpful in providing evidence to the U.S. government.

A senior official told ABC News that the administration is "taking a look at options" that include missile strikes and providing arms to the rebels. With that said, sending American soldiers to Syria is not -- and will not be -- an option.

The official said that the meetings were different from past administration rhetoric, in that it is more urgent. The potential large death tolls could represent either a major escalation or proof that Assad has lost control of his country's chemical weapons.

While administration officials hope to have a decision in the near future, "there is no timeline."

The official told ABC News that whatever action the U.S. takes must serve to advance the U.S. strategy and goals in Syria and should take into consideration the potential consequences.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry spent much of Friday making phone calls to a number of foreign representatives. In speaking with foreign ministers and secretaries from Europe and the Middle East, as well as representatives from the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League, Kerry reiterated the United States' commitment to gather the pertinent facts surrounding the events of this past week.

A statement from a senior State Department official additionally expressed American "concern and outrage over the disturbing reports, photos and videos we have seen, which shock the conscience."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Despite Visit to Yacht, John Kerry Focused on Situation in Egypt

JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There have been headlines about Secretary of State John Kerry being on his yacht in Nantucket while the first democratically-elected president of Egypt was being overthrown.

But on Friday, the State Department sought to clarify that while Kerry was “briefly” on his yacht and was currently in Nantucket, he has been working non-stop on Egypt from the Massachusetts hide-away.

On Wednesday, reporters spotted Kerry boarding his boat the same day Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was being toppled by the Egyptian military following days of protests.

When asked about Kerry’s whereabouts, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki issued a statement referring to Kerry’s return from his whirlwind 12-day trip to the Middle East and Asia, and his new focus on Egypt.

“Since his plane touched down in Washington at 4 a.m., Secretary Kerry was working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt,” Psaki said.

On Friday, however,  Psaki further clarified Kerry’s whereabouts and activities, issuing a statement acknowledging that Kerry did, in fact, spend time on his yacht, but insisting that he has been fully engaged in dealing with the events in Egypt.

“While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday, Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day,” said Psaki, who highlighted the telephone calls Kerry made while in Nantucket, including five made to the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson. She also confirmed that Kerry participated in the president’s National Security Council meeting on Wednesday and again on Thursday by telephone.

A senior State Department official told ABC News that none of the calls Kerry made on Wednesday were from his yacht.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Ramps Up Support for Syrian Opposition

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has directed his national security team to identify ways to significantly increase U.S. support of the opposition forces battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Among the options under consideration is supplying arms to rebel forces, although no decision on that has been made.

The first step will likely be a dramatic expansion of non-lethal aid to opposition fighters.

“The items to be supplied will be decided after consultations with the Supreme Military Command,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. "Additional communications equipment, armor, night-vision goggles and vehicles are among the items being discussed.”

Hayden also suggested aid to the rebels could go beyond such non-lethal assistance.

“We continue to consider all other possible options that would accomplish our objective of hastening a political transition,” she said.

The aid is intended to tilt the balance in favor of the rebels and hasten the fall of the Assad regime. It is not a direct response to chemical weapons evidence, but a recognition that the situation in Syria has gotten worse and the only real solution is for Assad to be ousted.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced last week that the United States would be doubling aid to the opposition, bringing the total U.S. aid to $250 million, including non-lethal supplies to the opposition’s military wing.

Beyond that, senior administration sources say, the White House is actively considering supplying the rebels with arms. This is a move Obama has resisted for fears that the weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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