Assad must quit or be forced out, asserts Saudi FM Adel al-Jubeir

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also warned that Iran had a negative influence on ‘most regional issues’

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has two choices: “Either to leave through negotiations or be forcibly removed from power,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in Riyadh on Thursday.

He was speaking to reporters during a two-day meeting of Syrian opposition groups wherein Assad foes called on the United Nations to press the Assad regime to take confidence building measures ahead of proposed peace talks, the Saudi Press Agency reported.


“As I said before, Bashar Assad has two solutions: Leave through negotiations, which is easier and better for all. Or he will have to leave through fighting because the Syrian people refuse that this regime and person stays in power,” he said.

Talking about Iran, Jubeir said it was playing a “negative role” in the region.

Iran had a negative influence on “most regional issues,” he said adding he had met his Iranian counterpart for only “a few minutes” at the sidelines of a Vienna meeting last month to discuss ways to end the war in Syria.

In a statement issued at the end of the two-day expanded meeting of the opposition groups and revolutionary factions, the Syrian political and armed opposition groups agreed that Assad and his aides must step down with the start of a transition period set out last month by top diplomats.

The delegates also expressed their willingness to have a ceasefire on the basis of the conditions that are agreed upon, and that would be under the supervision of the United Nations. The meeting has agreed creation of a Supreme Commission for Negotiations, based in Riyadh.

The Syrian delegates underlined the need to safeguard the territorial integrity of their country and reiterated their conviction that Syria has to remain an all-inclusive, civic, and sovereign state based on a federal structure.

Rejecting the presence of foreign fighters in the country, the groups called for resolving the Syrian crisis through the first-rate political means.

They agreed on a framework for negotiations with the officials representing the Assad regime on the basis of the Geneva statement of June 2012 and the international resolutions regarding resumption of talks.

There was also an agreement on creation of the team of negotiators to hold talks with Assad regime with a condition that membership of anyone in the team would cease to end upon joining the transitional government.

The confidence building measures, proposed by the meeting, include a halt to executions, the release of political detainees, ending of regime sieges on towns and districts to allow the entry of humanitarian aid, stopping airstrikes on civilian areas and creation on conditions to allow return of refugees,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Russia, the US and the United Nations will hold three-way talks in Geneva on Friday as part of their preparations for a new round of talks in Vienna following meetings that brought both Saudi Arabia and Iran to the table for the first time.

(With Agencies)

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 11, 2015.

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