Minister: Syrians alone will decide future

2013-10-30 12:14
Syrian President Bashar Assad (AP Photo/SANA, File)

Syrian President Bashar Assad (AP Photo/SANA, File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Damascus - Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem insisted on Tuesday that only the Syrian people can choose their future, rejecting Western and Arab demands that President Bashar Assad step down.

Muallem was speaking to visiting UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is mustering support for proposed peace talks in Geneva, the official news agency SANA reported.

"Syria will attend Geneva II based on the exclusive right of the Syrian people to choose their political future, to choose their leaders and to reject all forms of external intervention," Muallem said.

"The dialogue will take place between Syrians," he added, rejecting interference from outside.

He also said that all statements about the future of the country, particularly "the one from London", were "infringements on the rights of the Syrian people" and "preconditions to the dialogue before it has even started".

That was a reference to the 22 October meeting of the "Friends of Syria" group of countries, key backers of the Syrian opposition.

At the meeting, Western and Arab powers agreed with opposition heads that Assad had no future role to play in the country.

Brahimi himself insisted that the Geneva talks would be "between the Syrian parties" and that only Syrians would decide their future, SANA reported.

He added that there was an agreement on "the importance of ending the violence, terrorism and respecting Syrian sovereignty", according to SANA.

As Brahimi presses his tour to drum up backing for the talks in Geneva, its prospects remain in doubt, with Syria's increasingly fractured rebels having yet to say whether they will attend.

The main opposition National Coalition has said it will refuse to attend talks unless Assad's resignation is on the table, a demand rejected by Damascus.

And several rebel groups have even warned that anyone who attends will be considered a traitor.

Assad himself has cast doubt on the possibility of talks, saying he will not negotiate with any group tied to the rebels or to foreign states.

Vice premier sacked

With prospects dimming of Geneva II taking place next month as hoped, Assad sacked his vice premier, Qadri Jamil, for being absent without leave and carrying out unauthorised meetings abroad.

The dismissal comes after Jamil met with the US point man for Syria Robert Ford in Geneva on Saturday to discuss the proposed peace talks.

The official SANA news agency said Jamil was sacked after an "absence without authorisation from his post" as well as "activities and meetings outside the country without authorisation from the government".

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Ford met the "Syrian deputy Prime Minister, who ... led a government-affiliated internal opposition party and who has now reportedly departed that post".

"Ambassador Ford stressed that we must all work for a political solution on the lines of Geneva, that Assad and the inner circle have lost legitimacy and must go."

Jamil himself told Lebanon-based satellite channel Al-Mayadeen that he planned to return to Damascus and defended his meetings abroad.

"Our meetings with international parties to halt the bloodbath in Syria are legitimate," he said.

More than 115 000 people are estimated to have been killed in Syria's 31-month conflict.

Polio outbreak

In the latest measure of Syria's disintegration, the World Health Organisation confirmed 10 polio cases in the north-eastern province of Deir Ezzor, all of them in children under the age of two.

The results of tests in 12 other suspicious cases should be known in coming days.

Bruce Aylward, the WHO's assistant director-general in charge of polio, emergencies and country collaboration, said the virus was spreading by land which implies that it will not only be found in the area but in a larger region.

Before the war broke out, around 95% of all children were vaccinated, but since then some 500 000 children have gone without, the United Nations says.

Last week aid agencies and Syrian health authorities stepped up efforts to vaccinate 2.4 million children against polio, as well as measles, mumps and rubella.

On the battlefield, Kurdish fighters advanced across the northeast after seizing a crossing on the Iraqi border from jihadists over the weekend, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group.

The Kurds had seized two villages in Hasakeh province and surrounded a rebel brigade that is part of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, forcing it to surrender an array of weapons, including a tank.

As the conflict has grown increasingly muddled, the Kurds have fought both government forces and other rebel groups in a bid to carve out an autonomous zone modelled on the Kurdish region of Iraq.

Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have sought to control the border to facilitate the flow of fighters and arms, as it launched attacks in both Iraq and Syria.

Read more on:    un  |  who  |  bashaar assad  |  us  |  syria  |  syria conflict

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.