As­sad ‘has to go’ as part of tran­si­tion: Bri­tish FM

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

PRAGUE: Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sad “has to go” as part of a tran­si­tion in Syria, Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond said yes­ter­day on the eve of the Syr­ian talks in Vi­enna.

“Bashar Al-As­sad has to go as part of the tran­si­tion in Syria, but we rec­og­nize that if there will be a tran­si­tion he may play a part up to a point in that tran­si­tion,” Ham­mond said in Prague.

“We are very clear that we are not seek­ing to de­stroy the in­sti­tu­tions of gov­ern­ment in Syria, in fact we are very clear that we want to main­tain th­ese in­sti­tu­tions.” Mean­while, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said in an in­ter­view re­leased yes­ter­day that Rus­sia has no “right” to ask the Syr­ian pres­i­dent to leave power.

The week­end talks in Vi­enna will bring to­gether around 20 coun­tries and in­ter­na­tional bod­ies to ham­mer out a roadmap for peace to end Syria’s more than four-year civil war. Western of­fi­cials have al­ready dis­missed a Moscow-au­thored po­lit­i­cal re­form plan touted for the meet­ing-the sec­ond in Vi­enna in less than a month-say­ing it does not clar­ify what will hap­pen to As­sad. Pre­vi­ous at­tempts to end the civil war, which has killed more than 250,000 peo­ple and forced mil­lions from their homes, have stum­bled over his fate.

The West in­sists he must go, while Rus­sia and Iran sup­port the regime. Diplo­matic ef­forts to re­solve the con­flict have gath­ered pace since Rus­sia launched air strikes in Syria in late Septem­ber. — AFP

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