Putin says has no 'right' to ask Assad to leave

2015-11-13 22:07
Syrian President Bassar Assad. (Vahid Salemi, AP)

Syrian President Bassar Assad. (Vahid Salemi, AP)

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Moscow - President Vladimir Putin said in an interview released on Friday that Russia had no "right" to ask Syrian leader Bashar Assad to leave power.

His remarks came just days before leaders from the world's top 20 industrial powers gather in Turkey for a summit which begins on Sunday and is likely to be dominated by the Syrian conflict.

But Putin, who hosted the embattled Syrian leader for surprise talks at the Kremlin last month, said Russia could not and would not ask him to quit.

"Let's think just how legal and ethical our behaviour would be if we invited to Moscow the head of a friendly state and at the same time raised the issue of him leaving power?

"Syria is a sovereign country, Bashar Assad is a president elected by the people. So do we have the right to discuss with him these issues? Of course not," Putin said in an interview with the Interfax and Anatolia news agencies.

Bombing campaign

World powers are to hold another round of talks on the Syrian conflict in Vienna this weekend.

Putin reiterated that Russia's bombing campaign in Syria would last for the duration of an offensive by the Syrian army.

"So the duration of our military's stay will be determined solely by the implementation of this goal," Putin said.

The Russian president also said the "possible risks and consequences" of Russia's Syrian intervention have been addressed multiple times.

On September 30, Russia launched a bombing campaign in Syria, saying it needed to target Islamic State jihadists, but the West has accused Moscow of seeking to prop up Assad's regime and hitting moderate rebels.

A month later, an Airbus A321 charter plane carrying 224 people, mostly Russian tourists, crashed over Sinai, killing everyone on board.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in an apparent act of revenge for Russia's Syria intervention.

Read more on:    vladimir putin  |  russia  |  syria

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