WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that he had ideas about how to persuade President Bashar al-Assad to agree to a political transition in Syria and planned to raise them on his first foreign trip this month.
"We need to address the question of President Assad's calculation currently," Mr. Kerry said after a meeting with Jordan's foreign minister, Nasser Judeh. "I believe there are additional things that can be done to change his current perception. I've got a good sense of what I think we might propose."
Mr. Kerry did not say what proposals he had in mind. He is expected to travel to the Middle East and Europe, but the trip has not been formally announced.
"I can assure you my goal is to see us change his calculation, my goal is to see us have a negotiated outcome and minimize the violence," Mr. Kerry said. "It may not be possible. I am not going to stand here and tell you that's automatic or easily achievable. There are a lot of forces that have been unleashed here over the course of the last months."
Mr. Kerry made a similar statement during his Senate confirmation hearing last month. Despite his caution that progress might not be possible, the effect of Mr. Kerry's comments was to heighten expectations for his trip. Mr. Kerry is also expected to try to make headway on the issues dividing the Palestinians and the Israelis and set the stage for President Obama's trip to Israel next month.
Mr. Kerry's comment on Syria came a day after Mr. Obama said little about the Syria crisis in his State of the Union address. In that speech, Mr. Obama said he would keep pressure on the Syrian regime, but he did not voice confidence, as he had in his 2012 address, that Mr. Assad would soon be forced to relinquish power.
Mr. Kerry said that Mr. Obama would begin by listening to Israeli and Arab leaders and would not be bringing a major new proposal.
"The president is not prepared at this point in time to do more than listen to the parties, which is why he has announced he is going to go to Israel," he said.nation
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.