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Syria's National Coalition
Syria's National Coalition

Syria`s National Coalition insists on al-Assad's ouster

(Dp-news)

Agencies- Syria's main opposition National Coalition (SNC) said on Wednesday any political settlement to the country's two-year-old civil war must start with President Bashar al-Assad's ouster, implicitly rejecting a US-Russian initiative for dialogue with the regime.



"The National Coalition welcomes all international efforts which call for a political solution to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people and their hope for a democratic state, so long as they begin with the departure of Bashar al-Assad and his regime," the opposition umbrella group said.





The response could be a blow to the US-Russian initiative, which is based on an international deal agreed in Geneva last year that makes no mention of Assad stepping down.



The opposition has long insisted that the embattled president cannot stay on, but the regime insists that Assad's future will be decided in elections, with a vote scheduled for 2014.



Speaking at a joint news conference Tuesday in Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had agreed "as soon as is practicable, possibly and hopefully, by the end of this month" to "seek to convene an international conference

The opposition has adamantly refused any role for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in any transitional government. But Lavrov, without naming al-Assad, said he is "not interested in the fate of certain persons."

Kerry went further by telling reporters that "it's impossible for me, as an individual, to understand how Syria could be governed in the future by the man who has committed the things we know have taken place."

"But I'm not going to decide that tonight. I'm not going to decide that in the end. Because the Geneva communique says that the transitional government has to be chosen by mutual consent by the parties ... the current regime and the opposition," Kerry said.



For his part, UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi hailed Wednesday the agreement between Washington and Moscow to push both sides in the Syrian conflict to end the bloodshed and sit down for talks.



Brahimi has repeatedly expressed frustration over the failure to find a political solution in Syria, and has lamented the divisions on the U.N. Security Council that have prevented any international action.

The aim would be to implement last summer's Geneva communique brokered by Russia and the United States outlining how a transitional government could be formed.



If the conference takes place, it would be the first to bring together representatives of the warring sides, which have been unable to negotiate a settlement to the two-year conflict that has claimed more than 70,000 lives.

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