Obama: Syria Civil War Unlikely to End Soon

The president reiterated a push for greater humanitarian access in the country.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks about his plans to help America's long-term unemployed during an event in the East Room of the White House January 31, 2014 in Washington, DC. During the event Obama signed a memorandum directing the federal government not to discriminate against long-term unemployed job seekers. 
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Jordain Carney
Feb. 11, 2014, 8:20 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama said Tues­day that the Syr­i­an peace talks are still “far from” achiev­ing their goals.

“The first Geneva pro­cess com­mit­ted to a trans­ition pro­cess that would pre­serve and pro­tect the state of Syr­ia, that would ac­com­mod­ate the vari­ous sec­tari­an in­terests in­side Syr­ia “¦ and would al­low us to re­turn to some semb­lance of nor­malcy”¦. We are far from achiev­ing that yet,” Obama said at a press con­fer­ence with French Pres­id­ent Fran­cois Hol­lande.

Dip­lo­mats from 11 coun­tries poin­ted to Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad’s gov­ern­ment as the reas­on for a lack of ser­i­ous pro­gress in the round of peace talks late last month. Obama ac­know­ledged on Tues­day that “As­sad’s re­gime wasn’t par­tic­u­larly re­spons­ive” dur­ing the talks.

An­oth­er round of talks are on­go­ing in Geneva.

Hol­lande and Obama are press­ing the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment to open ac­cess for hu­man­it­ari­an work­ers to de­liv­er aid, but a U.N. res­ol­u­tion back­ing such an ef­fort faces an up­hill battle in the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil.

“It is not just the Syr­i­ans that are re­spons­ible — the Rus­si­ans as well if they are block­ing this sort of res­ol­u­tion,” Obama said.

The pres­id­ent stressed that the U.S. and its al­lies are “con­tinu­ing to ex­plore every pos­sible av­en­ue to solve this prob­lem,” and that he re­serves “the right to ex­er­cise mil­it­ary ac­tion “¦ but that has to be de­ployed wisely.”