Kerry, in France, looks at next steps on Syria

PARIS: New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has held his first official meeting with France’s leadership 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 U.S. administration is nearing a decision on whether to provide non-lethal assistance to carefully vetted fighters opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

France, Syria’s onetime colonial ruler, is also seeking ways to provide more support for Syria’s opposition coalition after two years of fighting Assad’s government crackdown.