Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has improved his position” since a deal aimed at dismantling his country’s chemical-weapons program started, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.
“It’s fair to say that Assad has improved his position a little bit, yes,” Kerry said, during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Now, I would describe the situation simply that Assad is not winning, but he’s also not losing. It’s sort of a stalemate at this moment.”
Kerry was asked about Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s comments at a congressional hearing last week. Clapper said the deal “adds legitimacy” to Assad’s government.
Kerry also pushed back against the notion that he has differed from President Obama on how the United States should be involved in Syria’s conflict.
The Syrian government has come under increasing criticism for missing deadlines to turn over its chemical weapons. It failed to meet Wednesday’s deadline to give up chemical materials, and has, so far, allowed just two shipments to be taken out of the country.
But United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Reuters on Thursday that he believes the Syrian government can still meet the June 30 deadline to destroy its chemical weapons program.
The interview also hit a lighter note, with Kerry saying that 2016 handicappers can take at least one secretary of State off their lists.
“I’m out of politics. I have no plans whatsoever,” he said, asked if he would consider running for president. “This is my last stop. I’m going to serve the country in the extraordinarily privileged position the president’s given me, the great challenges that I have, and move on.”