White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest could not say Thursday what the Obama administration’s new policy in Syria is after Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to end bilateral engagement with Russia inside the war-torn country.
A journalist asked Earnest to elaborate on Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comments Thursday morning, when he said that President Obama asked his national security team to come up with new options to implement in Syria. When asked to discuss some of these options, Earnest did not name any.
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"The president is regularly urging his national security team to evaluate the situation in Syria, to consider our strategy, and to look for ways to refine it and improve it and lead to more positive results," Earnest said.
Earnest said most of the administration’s strategic discussions revolve around destroying the Islamic State , but added there has not been much progress in addressing Syria’s political climate or sustaining a cessation of hostilities. Earnest called it "deeply disappointing."
"So your policy has failed so far?" the journalist asked.
Earnest said that as long as innocent people are targeted by their government and killed by chemical weapons, the administration will give the issue more attention.
"The president is going to continue to push his team to look for and evaluate additional options that we can undertake to try to reduce the violence, increase the flow of humanitarian assistance, and kickstart the kind of political transition talks that everybody acknowledges are necessary to address the root cause of the situation in Syria," Earnest said.
Blinken also could not answer the same question when asked by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) in a hearing earlier that day. Blinken did not provide any specifics except that Obama was asking federal agencies to propose options for further review.