Assad govt. not to attend talks to resign: Minister

A general view of the UN Human Right Council in debate on Syria in Geneva, May 29, 2013

The Syrian government will not participate in the forthcoming Geneva 2 peace conference if the aim is for President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power, the country’s information minister says.

“We will not go to Geneva to hand over power as desired by (Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud) al-Faisal and certain opponents abroad,” state news agency SANA quoted Omran al-Zoubi as saying on Monday.

“President Bashar al-Assad will remain head of state,” he added.

Zoubi made the remarks in response to Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal’s comments in May that there should be no role for President Assad in Syria’s future.

Head of the so-called Syrian National Coalition (SNC) Ahmad Jarba, during an emergency meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Sunday, also said that the group will attend the peace talks planned for this month only if there is a clear time frame for President Assad to step down. He also called for more weapons to be delivered to the militant groups in Syria.

Russia and the US have been pushing to bring the Syrian government and the opposition to the negotiating table.

The conference is seen as a chance to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis. The event has been delayed for months, but Moscow and Washington are now trying to fix a date for it in mid-November.

Russia and China have urged the presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the conference.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on October 11 that Western countries are on the right track regarding their attitude to Iran’s participation in the peace talks on the Syrian issue.

On September 29, UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi stated that it would be beneficial if Iran takes part in the Geneva 2 conference and there is the possibility of inviting the Islamic Republic.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. Reports indicate that the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside the country.

According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the violence.

By Press TV


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