Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has put paid to US and Russian hopes for a November 23 meeting for peace talks. Speaking to Lebanese TV Al Mayadeen he claimed the conditions weren’t in place for a successful outcome.
When asked by the interviewer about the Geneva conference, he replied that no date had been set and asked who exactly might be sitting around the negotiating table, alluding to the disarray amongst the Syrian opposition themselves.
Western and Arab countries are hoping for Assad’s departure to begin a political transition and bring an end to the two-year long conflict but the president said he had no intentions to leave, and pondered running for re-election in 2014.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who will travel to London on Tuesday to lay the groundwork for the talks, said that the Syrian opposition would never agree to such a perspective, setting the scene for tough negotiations.