Syrian opposition urges U.S.-Russia talks based on Assad ouster

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Syria’s main opposition bloc insisted on Wednesday that any talks between U.S. and Russia on ending their country’s war be based on President Bashar al-Assad’s departure.

“According to news sources at the NATO foreign ministers conference in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov met and seemed to share similar views regarding the Syrian crisis,” said the National Coalition.

“Any solutions must take into account the demands of the Syrian people, which include freedom from tyranny, and most importantly, the departure of Assad,” it added.

Kerry’s one-on-one meeting on Tuesday with Lavrov was largely devoted to the deteriorating situation in Syria and the need for a political solution “based on the Geneva framework,” a US official said.

The June 2012 Geneva accord laid down plans to ensure a political transition in Syria, but it makes no specific mention on whether Assad should give up power.

The international community is divided over the Syria conflict, with Russia and China backing Assad, and several Western and Arab countries supporting the uprising that broke out in March 2011.

Though the United States recently pledged new non-lethal aid to the opposition, it fears any arms meant for the rebels could fall into the hands of extremists.

Unlike the Syrian opposition, the United States also favors a transitional government as stipulated by the Geneva framework.

In March, the opposition instead named an interim prime minister tasked with forming a government for the rebel areas – effectively cancelling out any chance of entering into any future national unity government with regime officials.

“The Syrian Coalition applauds any efforts to present solutions and reach conclusions regarding the Syrian crisis. However, this two-year revolution by the people for the people, which calls for freedom and dignity, will continue,” said the opposition bloc.