Tags: syria | rebels | peace | talks

Rep. Radel: Syrian 'Peace Talks Are Great'

Image: Rep. Radel: Syrian 'Peace Talks Are Great' Anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a placard with caricature showing Syrian President Bashar Assad and U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration at Kafr Nabil town in Idlib province

Thursday, 09 May 2013 04:26 PM

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent

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A peace summit between Syrian rebels and the Assad regime is a far better alternative to sending U.S. troops to help resolve the two-year conflict which has killed an estimated 70,000 civilians, a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee tells Newsmax.

"Peace talks are great," said Republican Rep. Trey Radel of Florida. "I am very excited to hear that they are at least even talking about this. The U.S. cannot step in and dictate solutions to people who have issues, problems, and a history that goes back thousands of years."

Secretary of State John Kerry announced this week that the U.S. and Russia have agreed to host an international peace conference after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

The U.S. has long been at odds with Russia over its support of the Assad regime, which has included blocking sanctions against Syria at the U.N. U.S. intelligence assessments that chemical weapons have been used in Syria — crossing President Barack Obama's "red line" — has increased pressure on Russia to abandon its support for Bashar al-Assad.

Radel said he is pleased to see that Russia has come to the table, but that there is still a level of uncertainty as to whether Assad or the rebels used chemical weapons. He said he is "very hesitant" to support sending in the U.S military or providing military aid to Syrian rebels with no clear understanding of the nature of the opposition.

"We don't know exactly who the rebels are, what they stand for, and which groups could potentially be using chemical weapons," he said. "We in the United States sometimes fail to understand how deep their history is and what it means when it comes to conflicts."

Kerry said both parties have agreed not to rule Assad's participation in a future Syria but leave that up to the Syrians themselves, which Radel says should take into consideration innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

"At the end of the day, there is a very human element to this," Radel said. "Innocent people and families in the country are getting killed and they have nothing to do with the regime or the rebels."

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