The United States does not plan to hold talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad on the regional settlement, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
“The Secretary of State [John Kerry] has no intention to go to Damascus, not on this first trip and not until we are in a place where the Syrian people have gotten on the road to meeting their aspirations for a free and democratic country,” Nuland told reporters Thursday.
“He also has zero intention to talk to Assad,” she said.
Nuland said the United States would keep pushing for a peaceful transition of power in Syria.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict since March 2011, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said earlier in February.
Russia has faced strong international criticism over its refusal to back UN sanctions against Syria, its last ally in the Arab world, over what it called the pro-rebel bias of some resolutions proposed by Western nations.
Moscow denies it is backing President Assad and says it is concerned that the Syrian president’s forced departure would only worsen the conflict.