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Assad Won't Go - Syrian Information Minister

posted 22 Jan 2014, 07:44 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 22 Jan 2014, 07:44 ]

Syria's Information Minister insists President Assad will not leave power and accuses opponents of lying.

MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND (JANUARY 22, 2014) (REUTERS) - Syria's Information Minister said on Wednesday (January 22) President Bashar al-Assad will not step down, as demanded by some of the international powers seeking to end the country's protracted conflict.

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"Assad isn't going," Omaran Zoabi told journalists on the sidelines of U.N.-sponsored face-to-face peace talks in the Swiss resort of Montreux.

Earlier al Zoabi invited journalists to visit Syria to uncover what he said were 'lies' being spread by the opponents of Assad."

Syria has always maintained a strict policy towards international and foreign journalists since the uprising against Assad began in 2011.

'The gates of Damascus are open, you are all journalists and I invite you all without exception with your cameras and your delegations to come to Syria to confirm and to compare what you have heard from some foreign ministers and what is happening on the ground,'' Zoabi said.

''Some foreign ministers today who spoke are taking part in misleading the world and international community and they are endorsing this misinformation. A big part of what was said today was either lies, or unjust accusations or lack of data and information,' he added.

Syria's government and opposition, meeting for the first time at the conference, angrily spelled out their hostility as world powers also offered sharply divergent views on forcing out Assad.

Opposition leader Ahmed Jarba accused the president of Nazi-style war crimes and demanded the Syrian government delegation at the one-day meeting in Switzerland immediately sign up to an international plan for handing over power.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem insisted Assad would not bow to outside demands and painted a graphic picture of "terrorist" rebel atrocities supported by Arab and Western states who back the opposition and were present in the room.