Ex-Syrian official: Assad’s resignation not precondition for talks

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International parties have agreed not to push for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's resignation before the planned Geneva II peace conference, Syria’s sacked deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil told Al Arabiya on Friday.

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford on Thursday told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that an agreement was reached with Russia to resolve the issue surrounding President Assad’s departure during the planned Geneva peace talks.

The opposition Syrian National Council demands that Assad’s resignation be a precondition for Geneva peace talks.

During a visit to Russia in August Jamil said, “Making his [Assad] resignation a condition for dialogue effectively means closing negotiations before they begin," but “during negotiations there is nothing off the table that any of the sides can suggest, including this issue."

Jamil was fired by the Syrian president on Tuesday for allegedly acting without government permission when he traveled to Switzerland and held meetings with American officials there.

“I informed my president [Assad] that I was leaving the country to conduct official meetings,” Jamil told Al Arabiya, denying that he acted without permission.

Jamil is part of what the Assad’s regime considers as “the national opposition,” which agreed to take part in the government and work under the umbrella of the existing Baathist regime.

Pro-Kremlin Kommersant reported that the dismissal of Jamil was likely due to suspicions by the Assad’s regime that he is presenting himself to Russia and the United States as an alternative to Assad and as the best opposition candidate to lead a transitional government, should such government be formed.

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