Syrian FM: 'Assad won't hand over power at Geneva'
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said that the government will send representatives to the proposed peace conference in Geneva but ruled out ceding power, Al Jazeera reported.
"We will head to Geneva not to hand over power to the other side ... We will go to Geneva in order to set up a real partnership and a broad national unity government," Moualem said at a Damascus press conference.
He also urged any party with the "illusion" that the government would attend Geneva with the intentiona of giving up power "not to go to Geneva."
The US and Russia first mooted the idea of a Geneva peace conference to be held in June but disagreements between Syrian and international parties have set the date back until July at the earliest.
Opposition forces have said they will refuse to attend the conference without guarantees that foreign fighters supporting Bashar al-Assad, including Iranians, Iraqis and Lebanese Hezbollah militants, would withdraw from Syria.
On the inernational stage, Russia has insisted that any peace conference must inculde Iranian representatives and that Assad leaving power must not be a precondition. Meanwhile Washington has stressed that a transitional government without Bashar al-Assad is its preferred starting point for peace negotiations.