Assad vows to dig in: refuses to negotiate with rebel factions
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gives an interview to Argentinian newspaper Clarin(AFP/SANA)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad welcomed US-Russia moves to initiate a peace plan for the country but swept aside the prospect of resigning from power, in an interview with an Argentinian newspaper.
"To resign would be to flee" he told Clarin, when quizzed on US demands that he step aside as part of a political settlement to the 2 year old Syrian crisis.
"I don't know if Kerry or anyone else has received the power of the Syrian people to talk in their name about who should go and who should stay. That will be determined by the Syrian people in the 2014 presidential elections."
"We have received the Russian-US approach well and we hope that there will be an international conference to help Syrians overcome the crisis," he said.
"We do not believe that many Western countries really want a solution in Syria. And we don't think that the forces that support the terrorists want a solution to the crisis," he added.
"We must be clear," he said. "There is confusion in the world over a political solution and terrorism. They think that a political conference will stop terrorism on the ground. This is unrealistic."
Diplomatic dialogue between the US, Russia and the Syrian opposition has increased in recent weeks, with the two superpowers leading efforts to bring together all parties for a peace conference within a month. However the Syrian opposition and the US have reiterated demands that Assad must step down as part of any settlement, while Russia has stated that there can be no such pre-conditions for talks to take place.
At least 70,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflcit began in March 2011, according to the United Nations.