Reuters reports: The United States on Tuesday appeared to open the door to eventually arming the Syrian opposition, saying if a political solution to the crisis were impossible it might have to consider other options.
The comments, made by officials at both the White House and the State Department, marked a shift in emphasis by Washington, which thus far has stressed its policy of not arming the opposition and has said little about alternatives.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with representatives of some 70 countries in Tunis on Friday for the first “Friends of Syria” meeting to coordinate the international community’s next steps to respond the nearly year-long uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We still believe that a political solution is what’s needed in Syria,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
“We don’t want to take actions that would contribute to the further militarization of Syria, because that could take the country down a dangerous path. But we don’t rule out additional measures.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, asked if the United States was shifting its stance on arming the rebels, said Washington did not want to see the violence increase and was concentrating on political efforts to halt the bloodshed.
“That said … if we can’t get Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may have to consider additional measures.”
She declined to elaborate on what those measures might be.