World News‎ > ‎

Assad Downplays Chances Of Negotiated Solution

posted 19 May 2013, 04:27 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 May 2013, 04:27 ]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says it is "unrealistic" to think that proposed US-Russia peace talks to end the conflict in Syria will succeed.

DAMASCUSSYRIA (MAY 18, 2013) (SYRIAN PRESIDENT'S OFFICE) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has downplayed the success of US-Russian mediation efforts aimed at ending the country's civil war.

Speaking to Argentine newspaper Clarin on Saturday (May 18), Assad expressed his doubt that peace talks proposed by the United States and Russia could curb "terrorism" in the country.

"There is confusion in the world between a political solution and terrorism. They think a political conference will halt terrorists in the country. That is unrealistic," he said in reference to insurgent groups seeking to unseat him.

The Syrian president rejected dialogue with "terrorists", but said that he was willing to enter into talks with factions that did not endorse violence.

"We said from the beginning that we are prepared to talk with forces inside or outside of Syria. We don't have a problem with that, but on condition that they do not carry weapons. You cannot carry a weapon and enter into dialogue," he said.

Assad reiterated he would not resign and said peace talks would not make sense because the opposition was too fragmented to negotiate an agreement.

Rebels demanding Assad's resignation have also voiced scepticism about the proposed peace talks.

On Friday (May 17) the outlook for talks appeared to have hit diplomatic snags.

The United States chided Russia for sending air-defence missiles to the Syrian government, while France made clear it would oppose any meeting if Assad's regional ally Iran were invited.

Russia's position is that Tehran should be part of any solution.

The Syrian conflict started with mainly peaceful demonstrations against Assad, but turned into a civil war in which the United Nations says tens of thousands of people have been killed.