Syrian rebels agree to meet John Kerry at Rome conference (VIDEO)


US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, answers a reporter's question during a joint news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague, right, following their meeting in central London, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013.


Lefteris Pitarakis

Syria's rebels have agreed to meet John Kerry this week in Rome, dropping a boycott.

The news came as the Washington said it was willing to step up its assistance to those trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian National Coalition said Saturday that it was withdrawing from the 11-nation meeting on Thursday.

Instead it said it would visit Washington and Moscow to protest a lack of action over mounting civilian deaths in Syria.

However, according to Agence France-Presse, Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague convinced the group to revoke its boycott on a Friends of Syria conference on Thursday.

The statesmen held a joint press conference in London, with Kerry saying that President Barack Obama was evaluating further steps required in order to help protect Syrian civilians.

The Boston Globe cited Kerry as condemning Assad, saying that bloodshed in the country was "unacceptable" and suggesting a new role for Americans in the region.

"We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind, wondering where the support is, if it is coming. We are not going to let the Syrian opposition not have its ability to have its voice properly heard in this process."

Coalition spokesman Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib said on his Facebook page that the group would attend after Kerry and Hague "promised specific aid to alleviate the suffering of our people."

Meanwhile, YNet News cited Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem as saying Monday that:

"Syrian authorities are ready for a dialogue with anyone who's willing, even with those who carry arms."