No election talks, Assad wants to defeat ‘terrorists’

Assad makes no mention of a proposal floated by Russia for new presidential and parliamentary elections

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“The elimination of terrorist groups would lead to a political solution sought by Syria and Russia, President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday during a meeting with a Russian delegation in the capital Damascus, Syrian state media reported.

State news agency SANA’s initial report on the meeting made no mention of a proposal floated by Russia for new presidential and parliamentary elections.

“Eliminating the terrorist organizations will lead to the political solution that we strive for in Syria and Russia,” Assad was quoted as saying.

Assad also expressed his appreciation for Russian air strikes.

His comments came during talks with a Russian parliamentary delegation visiting Damascus just days after Assad went to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

Assad said Russia's role was “writing a new history because this war will determine the future of the region and the world, and victory against terrorism will protect not only Syria but all countries.”

Earlier the Russian news agency RIA cited a lawmaker who attended the meeting as saying Assad was ready to take part in presidential elections if the Syrian people supported the idea.

“He [Assad] is ready to conduct elections with the participation of all political forces who want Syria to prosper,” Russian lawmaker Alexander Yushchenko said by phone after meeting Assad.

A Russia lawmaker who met Assad on Sunday said the embattled Syrian leader’s priority was to fight and defeat terrorism and then hold parliamentary and presidential elections.

Asked whether Assad was ready for early elections, Sergey Gavrilov said his impression from Assad was that “the first aim (is) the struggle with and victory over ... terrorism, and after that the elections - parliamentary and president elections.”

Gavrilov was speaking in English to Reuters in Damascus.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in an interview broadcast on Saturday, called for Syria to prepare for both presidential and parliamentary elections.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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