Australia’s foreign minister has called for a political solution to the foreign-backed militancy in Syria, stressing the need for a national unity government involving Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In an interview with English-language broadsheet newspaper The Australian published on Saturday, Julie Bishop said there is an emerging consensus that the incumbent Damascus government would likely have a pivotal role in fortifying the Syrian state and stopping the ISIL (Daesh) militant group from gaining ground.
“It is evident there must be a political as well as a military solution to the conflict in Syria,” the top Australian diplomat said, noting that Canberra would play its part in achieving such an objective.
“There is an emerging view in some quarters that the only conceivable option would be a national unity government involving President Assad,” Bishop pointed out.
Bishop’s comments come as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on September 24 that any talks on ending the conflict in Syria should involve Assad.
“We have to speak with many actors, this includes Assad, but others as well. Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia,” she told a press conference in Brussels.
On September 22, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French-language daily Le Figaro that a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis is impossible without the country’s president. “If we require, even before negotiations start, that Assad step down, we won’t get far,” Fabius underlined.
The conflict in Syria, which started in March 2011, has reportedly claimed more than 240,000 lives up until now.
The US and its allies including France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are known as the major supporters of the militants fighting Syria’s government forces.