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Secretary Kerry says time is now for Syria's Assad to quit

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 8:49 am

PARIS — New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the time has passed for Syrian President Basher Assad to leave power.

His first official meetings with France's leadership come amid increasing efforts by both countries to bolster Syria's opposition.

Kerry met Wednesday with French President Francois Hollande in Paris, chatting in French on the front steps of the Elysee Palace.

The war in Syria and Iran's nuclear program have topped the agenda of Kerry's tour of Europe and the Middle East.

Officials in the United States and Europe said Tuesday the Obama administration is nearing a decision on whether to provide non-lethal assistance to carefully vetted fighters opposed to Assad.

"We are examining and developing ways to accelerate the political transition that the Syrian people want and deserve," Kerry said.