Tuesday, July 07
Latest News
  1. EU: Eurozone stability 'not in question' after Greek vote
  2. Turkey summons commanders to discuss Syria intervention
  3. World powers begin talks to seal Iran nuclear deal
  4. Syria army enters last rebel bastion by Lebanon border
  5. Egypt looks set to approve disputed anti-terror law
  6. Fighting grips Yemen's Aden as UN envoy presses truce bid
  7. Kuwait mulls charging more than 40 over mosque bomb
  8. Sousse governor among officials fired over Tunisia attack
  9. Polling opens in crucial Greece bailout referendum
  10. Greece will decide its own 'destiny' says PM Tsipras
  11. Police, witness: Suicide bomber kills five in NE Nigeria church
  12. Clinton: China 'trying to hack into everything'
  13. Airstrikes hit multiple IS targets in Syria stronghold
  14. Tunisia declares state of emergency after beach attack
  15. Ministers back to Vienna for final Iran nuclear deal push
  16. Lawyer: 2 London teens have married IS group fighters
  17. Saudi-led air strike on Yemen rebel bastion 'kills 23'
  18. IAEA: Iran atomic bomb probe may be completed in 2015
  19. FM: Iran will help meet 'common challenges' like extremism
  20. Greece PM urges 'No' vote to 'live with dignity in Europe'

Syria says talk of Assad's removal unacceptable

Jan. 20, 2013 10:27 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 21, 2013 6:09 P.M.)
By: Erika Solomon
BEIRUT (Reuters) -- Syria's foreign minister said on Saturday any discussion of President Bashar Assad's future was "unacceptable", a week after an international envoy said the president should not be part of a transitional government.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem's comments showed the government has dug in against foreign pressure for a deal with the rebels fighting to topple Assad.

"No one should dare discuss the position of the president ... this is unacceptable," he told Syrian state television in an interview.

World powers have been deadlocked in their efforts to promote a transitional government they hope could prevent more bloodshed in the 22-month-old uprising against Assad, which has turned into a civil war that has killed more than 60,000 people.

United Nations and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who recently visited Assad and Syrian officials, told Reuters a week ago Assad should not be part of a transitional government.

Syrian officials condemned his comments and said the mediator was biased toward governments supporting the rebels.

Moualem said Assad's proposal earlier this month for a new parliament and constitution was the only way forward out of the conflict. He reiterated the embattled leader's argument that only "nationalistic opposition" could participate.

Their definition excludes the armed opposition or any group that supports intervention in Syria's conflict, even though they are now the driving force of the rebel movement.

The opposition, for its part, has rejected anything but Assad's removal.

International talks in Geneva last June, led by Brahimi, proposed a transitional government but left open Assad's future. The proposal foundered after opposition backers like the United States insisted Assad not play a role, while Russia, Assad's main arms supplier, said foreign powers should not impose restrictions on the transition.

Syrian interpretation of Geneva plan

In his interview with Syria TV on Saturday, Moualem said Assad's proposed initiative for national dialogue was Damascus's only accepted reading of the Geneva transition plan.

"There were a lot of ambiguities (in the Geneva proposal) and we were unable to clarify them. So this Syrian political program is our interpretation of the transitional period mentioned in the Geneva declaration," he said.

"We will not discuss anything outside of this program."

Assad's pitched a three-stage initiative earlier in January which calls for national dialogue, creation of a new constitution, and a new parliament, followed by national referendums. But the reforms are similar to previous ones made by the Assad, which the opposition rejected as superficial.

Moualem said all those who wanted reform would accept it.

"What more democracy could one want than this?"

The current government, he said, would lay the groundwork for dialogue and transition over the next two to three months. He said efforts would continue despite daily clashes, which now regularly kills more than 100 Syrians per day.

"The question is if the violence doesn't stop should we continue with the dialogue or not? I say we should continue."

The minister also said that Syria's borders, a large portion of which have fallen into rebel hands, should be brought back under control by international efforts.

"This issue is actually something for the United Nations. They should come up with a mechanism, but what mechanism? It must be something that the Syrian government agrees to."
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015