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Ousting Assad as precondition for peace 'unacceptable to Russia'

August 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Russia’s foreign minister said on Monday that his country will not accept the ousting of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad as a precondition for future peace talks.

“While some of our partners believe that it is necessary to agree in advance that at the end of the transitional period the president will leave his post,” Sergei Lavrov told a press conference with his Iranian counterpart, “this position is unacceptable for Russia.”

The Russian minister reiterated the belief that the fate of Syria should be decided by the Syrians themselves, without outside interference or any kind of preconditions. He recalled the dispute between Moscow and the United States and several other countries in the region about the fate of Syria and its “legitimate” president.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that any violation of the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq and their sovereignty and national independence is unacceptable. “Any foreign interference is unacceptable,” he repeated. “In this, we have a common position with Russia.”

The Geneva agreement, which was signed in the summer of 2012 between Damascus and the Syrian opposition factions under the auspices of Russia and the United States, provided for a political transition in Syria. The agreement failed due to a dispute over Assad’s future.

Russia is the Syrian regime’s main ally. It is calling for an expanded coalition which includes Turkey, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, in addition to the Syrian regime, to combat the Daesh militant group. However, Assad’s opponents reject the proposal.