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Barack Obama: 2009-present
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
February 14th, 2014

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

11:00 A.M. EST

MR. CARNEY: Hello, everyone. Good afternoon -- or good morning, and happy Valentine's Day. Actually, I have no announcements to make so I'll go straight to your questions.

Julie Pace.

Q: Thanks, Jay. I wanted to ask a couple questions about what's happening in the Syria talks in Geneva. I get that the U.S. thinks that this is going to be a difficult process, but what should we read into the prospect for anything coming from this when the Russians don't seem to agree with the U.S. on the actual purpose being there? They say that this is not just for finding a transitional government in Syria.

MR. CARNEY: Well, everyone who signed onto the idea of the Geneva Communique understands and understood what the purpose was and is. And there is no question that the talks thus far have not produced significant breakthroughs, but it is important that everyone recognize that the only resolution to this conflict comes through a negotiated political settlement.

We are going to continue to pressure not just the Assad regime but also countries like Russia and Iran to recognize that it is in nobody's interest to see the continuing bloodshed and collapse that's taking place inside Syria. Now, the President said last week that this is a difficult process and we are far from achieving the goal we envision here. But we have to keep at it. There is no other way to resolve this ongoing crisis that doesn't involve the two sides sitting across from each other at a table.

Q: But is this process actually backtracking, moving backwards, if you say that everyone came to the table agreeing that this was about finding some kind of transitional body to run Syria and now you have the Russians saying that that's not the point of the talks?

MR. CARNEY: Again, I would say that we recognize that significant progress is not being achieved but it is important that the talks themselves have taken place. And we are going to continue to press all sides, all parties to this to recognize that there is no other way out of this conflict. We continue to believe that the main problem is the regime's unwillingness so far to engage constructively on the implementation of the Geneva Communique, which, as I said earlier, is the foundation of the talks.

The opposition, by contrast, has shown a seriousness of purpose. They continue to outline their vision for the future of Syria, and we commend them for that. They have shown that they are willing to engage constructively for the sake of the Syrian people, and we haven't seen that kind of engagement from the regime so far.

Again, we recognize the situation in Syria continues to be terrible for the people of Syria. Our efforts, including our humanitarian efforts, our efforts at the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that would make it easier to deliver humanitarian aid, our efforts on behalf of the opposition are all aimed towards bringing about a transition in Syria that will lead to a better future for the country. There is no other way to get from here to there.

Q: And then just quickly, I think in the President's remarks just now, he didn't bring up fast track for the trade agreements in his remarks to Democrats. Is that something he still believes is realistic this year or whenever these deals are ready to take that plunge?

MR. CARNEY: The President's position has not changed. It has long been the case -- Major and I know, Ann and I kno ...
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