Spain backs Syrian national unity government

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Spain backs the formation of a national unity government in Syria as a way out of the country’s two-year conflict, its foreign minister said in neighboring Lebanon on Wednesday.

“The regime of [President] Bashar al-Assad has support, more or less, among the population, the Russians and the Iranians, and [can rely] on an army that functions,” Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said at a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart in Beirut.

“On the other side, there are Salafist organizations. The solution comes from negotiations intended to establish a transitional national unity government where representatives from all the communities are represented,” he added.

Syria’s conflict, which began as a peaceful uprising against Assad’s regime, has claimed more than 70,000 lives, with both sides stubbornly resistant to a political solution.

In January 2012, the Arab League put forward a plan for Assad to transfer power to his deputy and for a government of national unity to be formed ahead of elections, but it fell on deaf ears.

And Kofi Annan, the former UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, resigned from the post in August 2012, after the international community failed to support his own proposal for a unity government.

The Arab League has since called on Assad to quit and given the opposition National Coalition the country's seat at the 22-member bloc.

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