Kerry, Fabius Meet in Paris to Discuss Mali, Syria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met his French counterpart today to discuss Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s war against rebel forces and unrest in Mali.

Kerry, who arrived in Paris last night, held breakfast talks with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on international efforts “to bring an end to the Assad regime’s brutal campaign against the Syrian people” and “to restore democracy in Mali,” according to Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman.

Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib said yesterday the rebels had asked Kerry for North Atlantic Treaty Organization missile batteries in Turkey to be used to protect civilians in northern Syria from rocket attacks by Assad’s forces. As many as 11,200 United Nations peacekeepers and a special counterterrorist unit should be deployed to Mali to take over the fight against Islamic insurgents, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a report obtained yesterday.

Kerry and Fabius also discussed the Central African Republic, Psaki told reporters traveling with the secretary of state. The rebel Seleka movement seized power in the country three days ago.

Kerry later met French business leaders including Jean-Bernard Levy of Thales SA and Clara Gaymard of General Electric Co.’s French unit to talk about economic growth and the U.S.- European Union trade pact under discussion.

The U.S. and EU are negotiating a free trade accord that, if adopted, would remove tariffs, ease regulatory barriers and expand investment access. Trade between the U.S. and EU amounted to $4.5 trillion in 2011, the U.S. says, accounting for one-third of all trade. U.S. and EU officials have said they want to complete the talks -- which face challenges over issues including agriculture and regulatory standards -- within two years.

The top American diplomat is returning to the U.S. later today after a week in Israel and Jordan with President Barack Obama and a separate trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.

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