US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have no role in a political settlement to Syria’s conflict, the BBC reports. The comments followed reports that the US was softening its insistence on Mr Assad’s departure as a precondition for any deal – as demanded by rebels. That had been opposed by Russia, which this week agreed to convene an international conference on Syria. Meanwhile, Jordan said Syrian refugees now make up 10percent of its population. Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said that by the end of the year that figure could reach 25 percent, and 40 percent by mid-2014.Mr Kerry announced a further USD 100m in aid for Syrian refugees, $43m of which would go to Jordan.
Speaking to reporters in Rome, Mr Kerry said Mr Nasser would work with the US to “effect a transition government by mutual consent of both sides, which clearly means that in our judgement President Assad will not be a component of that transitional government”. Mr Kerry also said there had been a “very positive response” to the US-Russian proposal for an international conference on Syria, announced after Mr Kerry held talks in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.