U.S. considers options to help Syrian opposition - Kerry says

WASHINGTON Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:16am IST

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media about Syria at the State Department in Washington May 31, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/Files

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media about Syria at the State Department in Washington May 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is debating what more it might do to help the Syrian opposition in its civil war against the government, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday without giving any details.

"We are determined to do everything that we can in order to help the opposition to be able ... to save Syria," Kerry told reporters at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

"People are talking about what further options might be exercised here ... but we don't have anything to announce at this moment."

For his part, Hague said Britain, the United States and allies in Europe and the region - a group known as the London 11 that has met in Turkish and Jordanian cities - may need to step up their efforts to help the opposition.

"We have met several times including in Istanbul, and in Amman, recently to coordinate our actions and our diplomacy and our support of the national coalition," Hague said.

"We will continue to do that and we may well have to intensify that in various ways over coming weeks in order to make it more likely that we can achieve a political solution in Syria," he added.

The talks come ahead of a Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland next week, where leaders will discuss a coordinated response to a worsening Syrian conflict and how to bring the warring parties together at a peace conference.

The war has killed at least 80,000 people, sent hundreds of thousands of refugees into Turkey and Jordan and displaced millions within Syria.

The Obama administration is meeting this week on whether to arm the Syrian rebels, a topic that Kerry said he discussed with his British counterpart.

The White House has debated for months whether to give arms to the rebels, but the issue is now firmly on the table given increased involvement by Hezbollah and Iran in backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the battlefield.

Kerry made that clear that a political solution was the United States' preferred outcome.

"It is not a question to me whether or not the opposition can win; it is a question of whether or not we can get this political solution," Kerry said.

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)

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