Coming up

Don't miss




A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more


The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more


The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more


Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more


New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more


Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more


Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • French journalists abducted in Syria freed

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • South Korea ferry captain defends decision to delay evacuation

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

  • Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

Middle east

Top Syrian minister moots Assad departure


Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-21

Syria’s deputy prime minister hinted at a peace deal that might involve the departure of President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday in talks with Russia. Qadri Jamil said that the topic was not a closed one but should neither be a determining factor.

AFP - A top Syrian minister on Tuesday held out the prospect of strongman Bashar al-Assad stepping down as part of a negotiated settlement to 17 months of bloodshed that activists say has killed 23,000.

The comments from Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil came following talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Moscow officials who are keen to keep their sway over the Soviet-era ally in case of the fall of Assad.

Jamil rejected the idea of making Assad's resignation the condition for any future negotiations -- a demand made not only by the armed opposition but also Washington and several big European states.

But he said the president's departure could be a topic of discussion.

"As far as his resignation goes -- making the resignation itself a condition for holding dialogue means that you will never be able to reach this dialogue," said Jamil.

But the minister added in remarks translated into Russian: "Any problems can be discussed during negotiations. We are even ready to discuss this issue."

The United States announced on Monday that it would be promoting Assad's resignation during meetings with new UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi despite his initial refusal to back the idea.

Kofi Annan's recent replacement had earlier this week said it was still too early for him to say whether pushing for Assad's ouster was the right strategy at this point in the conflict.

US pressure on Syria escalated still further on Monday when President Barack Obama implicitly threatened to launch an attack should the Damascus regime deploy a chemical weapons stockpile it acknowledged having only last month.

The US leader said pointedly that he had not ordered military engagement against the Syrian regime "at this point".

But Assad's use of chemical weapons "would change my calculations significantly," said Obama.

Jamil waved off the threat as part of US election politics rather than an actual declaration of intent.

"Obama's threats are simply propaganda linked to the US elections," Jamil told reporters.

Jamil was paying his second visit to Moscow in two weeks in a bid to put the fishing touches on a framework agreement for fuel supplies and other urgent Russian assistance and loans.

The country's top aid negotiator admitted that he had failed to secure a financial rescue promise on this occasion because the Russians preferred to talks about the fighting now raging on the ground.

"The issue of a Russian credit was discussed during my previous visit," Jamil confirmed in reference to his early August appearance in Moscow.

"This time, we focused more on political issues."

The comment appears to betray a growing impatience by Russia to achieve some sort of progress toward peace talks it has been backing in the face of escalating violence and little sign of concession from Assad.

Russia has adamantly defended Syria against the threat of foreign military invasion and still continues to formally supply Assad with heavy weapons under contracts it signed before the fighting broke out.

But its efforts to get new international talks going on Syria at the United Nations ended in fiasco earlier this month when most world powers pulled out.

Many of them called Russia's efforts futile because of the sides' vast diplomatic differences and the rapidly growing death toll on the ground.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow could adopt no other position.

"There should be no interference from the outside," Lavrov said after his talks with the Syrian minister.

"The only thing that foreign players should do is create conditions for the start of dialogue," Lavrov said.

Date created : 2012-08-21


    Syria slams UN envoy over comments to FRANCE 24

    Read more


    Obama warns Assad over use of chemical weapons

    Read more


    Syria crisis fuels further clashes in Lebanon

    Read more