Friends of Syria, opposition agree no Assad in future government
After a long day of discussion Tuesday in London between Western and Arab powers and Syrian opposition leaders, the parties collectively announced that President Bashar al-Assad should be excluded from future government positions, according to AFP.
In an official announcement released after Tuesday's meeting, the Friends of Syria, represented by the so-called London 11 (Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States), stated their agreement that "Assad and his close associates with blood on their hands will have no role in [Syria's transitional or future government]. There must be accountability for acts committed during the present conflict."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters that the Friends of Syria "are as clear as [the opposition is] that Assad has no role in a peaceful and democratic Syria." Hague also reported that the Friends of Syria reached agreement on "a number of important steps" to encourage the Syrian opposition to fully participate in the proposed peace conference in Geneva next month.
At the end of Tuesday's talks, Hague continued to urge the rebels to "overcome their differences and commit themselves" to the Geneva peace talks, following announcements that some rebel groups, such at the Syrian National Council, boycott the talks if regime representatives attended. Hague also called on the president of the Syrian opposition National Coalition (SNC) Ahmad Jarba to "carry others with him" leading up to, and during, next month's meeting in Istanbul where all of the Syrian opposition leaders will meet to discuss whether or not they will participate in the Geneva meeting.
Tuesday's talks in London coincided with Assad's statements from a Monday interview with Al-Mayadeen that "factors were not in place" for Geneva II to succeed and he is willing to run for re-election in 2014, saying that he personally "[didn't] see any reason why I shouldn't run in the next election," according to the AFP report.
Syria's key ally, Russia, did not participate in Tuesday's meeting in London, under the premise that such gatherings "do not represent all Syrian people."
Russia and the US have been trying to organize the Geneva conference in conjunction with their brokered deal on destroying Syria's chemical weapon arsenals by mid-2014.