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Russia: Assad’s exit not essential
January 15, 2013, 8:41 am


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outlining his peace initiative. [SANA]

Russia has said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s stepping down from power is not necessary to resolve the conflict in the country.

“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s exit cannot be a precondition for a deal to resolve the country’s crisis,” said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commenting on a recent three-party meeting on Syria.

“Our partners are convinced that President Bashar al-Assad’s exit is essential as a precondition. This is a precondition, which is not mentioned in the Geneva Communique and cannot be fulfilled, because this does not depend on anyone,” Lavrov said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry made a statement the day after a meeting between Syria’s envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Russian and US diplomats.

Moscow is still favouring a political transaction in Syria and calls for an end to the “violence and bloodshed” – the statement says.

Russia also want to provide humanitarian aid to Syrians, but strongly believe that “Syrian people should decide their future themselves, without any outside interference or pressing existing formulas.”

The meeting in Geneva was not very fruitful and no deal was concluded.

Brahimi said that all parties involved want a solution as soon as possible, but admitted that it is likely to take some time.

“If you are asking me whether a solution is around the corner, I am not sure that is the case,” he said.

Brahimi added: “I am absolutely certain that the Russians are as preoccupied as I am, as preoccupied as the Americans are, by the bad situation that exists in Syria and its continuing deterioration, and I am absolutely certain that they would like to contribute to its solution.”

The US and Russia still disagree over the ways to resolve the conflict.

Russia believes the transaction process should be based on the agreement foreign powers reached last summer in Geneva.

However, for Russia the agreement does not stipulate Assad’s exit from power, while the US says it sent a clear signal that he must step down.

Last week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad proposed a peace initiative to resolve the country’s crisis and suggested a national reconciliation conference, formation of a new government and amnesty.

The opposition rejected the plan and described it as “empty rhetoric”.

Lavrov urged the Syrian opposition to come up with a viable peace plan as they rejected Assad’s suggestion.

“If I were in the opposition’s place, I would present…counter-ideas on ways to establish dialogue,” he said.

Daria Chernyshova