President Barack Obama said the civil war in Syria threatens to spill over its borders unless a political settlement that brings a new government to power can be negotiated.
As the U.S. steps up military assistance to the rebels battling Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Obama said the U.S. will keep pressing for negotiations and for Russia, which has backed Assad, to fully back those efforts.
“We need to create a transitional governing body with full powers,” Obama said at a news conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Obama refused to give specifics about what military aid the U.S. would provide.
At the conclusion of a Group of Eight nations meeting in Northern Ireland yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed assertions by the U.S., U.K. and France that Assad used chemical weapons and said arming the opposition would led to more bloodshed and putting extremists in power.
“At this point, President Putin believes that what would replace Assad would be worse than Assad himself,” Obama said. “What will become more and more apparent to him over the weeks and months, that without a different government, you cannot bring peace.”
Obama, Putin and the other G-8 leaders agreed on a statement calling for establishment of a transitional government as quickly as possible, stopping short of calling for Assad’s ouster.