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Fri Jun 21, 2013, 10:17 AM


Kerry Brings Obama’s Small-Arms Rebel Plan to Concerned European Nations

By David Lerman - Jun 20, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will confront concerns tomorrow from Mideast and European allies that a U.S. plan to send small arms won’t do enough to bolster Syrian rebels battling Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The top U.S. diplomat is to meet in Doha, Qatar, with foreign ministers from 10 other countries backing the Syrian opposition. Some, such as Saudi Arabia and France, have pushed to provide greater firepower to rebels who say they need anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.

“The administration has a big challenge,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “It’s not clear that a few arms can make much of a difference. I see little evidence to back up that hope.”

Talks on Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 93,000 people and driven more than 1.5 million refugees into neighboring countries, will be just the start of Kerry’s 11-day trip to seven countries. Efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons are among contentious issues on an itinerary that includes stops in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and India.

Kerry arrives in Qatar after a flap there this week stole attention from the announcement of plans for talks with the Taliban on a peace agreement in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai objected when the Taliban opened a Doha office under the name it used when it controlled Afghanistan and initially said his government wouldn’t participate in the negotiations.



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