Talk of Assad’s removal unacceptable: Syrian FM
Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:28AM
No one should dare discuss the position of the president ... this is unacceptable.” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-MuallemSyrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem says any discussion of the removal of President Bashar al-Assad in a future transitional government is “unacceptable.” "No one should dare discuss the position of the president ... this is unacceptable," Muallem said in a Saturday interview with Syrian state television. The Syrian foreign minister also called on the "nationalistic opposition" groups to lay down their weapons and join talks for forming a new government. Muallem added that rejecting the foreign intervention and renouncing terrorism are preconditions for joining the new cabinet. He said the Syrian government would continue its efforts for paving the way for dialogue and transition over the next three months.
"The question is if the violence doesn't stop should we continue with the dialogue or not? I say we should continue," he said.Muallem reiterated that a new parliament and constitution, which was proposed by Assad earlier this month, was the only way forward out of the crisis. The top diplomat added that Assad's latest initiative for national dialogue was the only accepted reading of the Geneva transition plan for Syrian government. "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." Talking about the role of the US in the Syrian crisis, al-Muallem stressed that "if the US wanted the violence in Syria to stop, it will stop." He also criticized the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for arming and financing the militants in Syria. Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil. Damascus has repeatedly said that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and that a very large number of the militants operating in the country are foreign nationals. According to a UN report, militants from 29 countries - most of whom are extremist Salafists - have filtered into Syria to fight against President al-Assad’s government. DB/MA