Kerry says Syrian opposition needs more help

PARIS Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:08pm EST

French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius (R) welcomes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Quai d'Orsay Ministry in Paris February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius (R) welcomes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Quai d'Orsay Ministry in Paris February 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

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PARIS (Reuters) - Syria's opposition needs more help in its struggle against President Bashar al-Assad and Washington wants to find ways to speed up a political transition, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.

Kerry, who met his French counterpart in Paris ahead of a Friends of Syria meeting in Rome on Thursday, did not say whether Washington was planning additional aid.

The Washington Post reported this week that the White House was considering a shift in policy and could send the rebels body armor and armed vehicles and provide military training. The report said U.S. officials still oppose providing arms.

"We are examining and developing ways to accelerate the transition the Syrian people seek and deserve," Kerry told a news conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

He said Washington wanted the Syrian opposition's advice on how to speed up a political solution which would be the best way to end the bloodshed and protect the interests of the Syrian people.

"That may require us to change President al-Assad's current calculation," he said. "He needs to know he cannot shoot his way out of this, so we need to convince him of that and I think the opposition needs more help in order to be able to do that. And we are working together to have a united position."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Alexandria Sage; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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