Lavrov Rejects Assad’s Exit as Precondition for Dialogue

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Moscow believes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s exit cannot be a precondition for a deal to resolve the country’s crisis, Russia’s foreign minister said on Sunday.

“Our partners are convinced that President Bashar al-Assad’s exit is essential as a precondition. This is a precondition, which is not mentioned in the Geneva Communique and cannot be fulfilled, because this does not depend on anyone,” Sergei Lavrov said in comments on Friday’s three-party Syria meeting with international Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and US diplomats.

“President Assad announced initiatives to invite all opposition members for a dialogue. Yes, probably, these initiatives are not far-reaching, someone may think they are not serious enough. But this is a proposal,” Lavrov said after talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kozhara commenting on Assad’s peace plan.

Last week, President Assad proposed a plan to resolve the country’s crisis which includes a national reconciliation conference, the formation of a new government and an amnesty.

The Syrian opposition has rejected the peace initiative, calling it “empty rhetoric”.

Russia’s foreign minister called on Syria’s opposition to announce their ideas on “how to enter a dialogue.”

Syria has been engulfed in a bloody civil war between various opposition forces and government troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad since March 2011.

According to UN estimates, over 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising

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