Russia says Assad removal ‘impossible’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power is not part of past international agreements and is “impossible” to implement.

“This is a precondition that is not contained in the Geneva Declaration (agreed by world powers in June 2012) and which is impossible to implement because it does not depend on anyone,” Lavrov said on Sunday.

The Russian foreign minister also referred to the plan proposed by Bashar al-Assad to resolve the country’s crisis on January 6, 2013, saying that the initiative forwarded by Assad “will probably not look serious to some,” but they “are offers.”

“If I were in the opposition’s place, I would present my counter-ideas about establishing dialogue,” Lavrov added.

In a key speech on Sunday, Assad said his government is always ready to hold talks with the opposition and political parties and will call for a “comprehensive national dialog” after foreign parties end their support for the militants and the terrorist activities end in the country.

On Saturday, Russia reiterated its support for political transition in Syria saying that Syrians themselves should decide about the future of their country without outside interference.

“In our opinion, the priority task is to immediately stop any violence and bloodshed as well as provide Syrians including internally displaced persons and refugees with humanitarian aid,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Syria has been the scene of unrest for nearly two years. Many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil that began in March 2011.

TE/PKH/SS