Dissident urges Assad to hand over to his VP
AFP PhotoThe new leader of Syria’s exiled opposition called on President Bashar al-Assad yesterday to transfer power to his deputy, Faruq al-Shara, Anatolia news agency reported. “Al-Assad should leave office to his vice president,” said Abdelbaset Seida of the Syrian National Council. (Read full report here)
The suggestion came amid furious diplomatic efforts by Russia to stage an international summit on the Arab republic that would also include Iran. “Without Iran’s involvement, the opportunity to exert constructive pressure on Syria will not be implemented in full,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Russian officials briefed Ankara last week over the international conference although Turkey is still assessing the proposal, officials said.
Meanwhile, U.N. envoy Kofi Annan called Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to discuss Russia’s proposal for the conference. Annan also expressed “grave concern” yesterday at the latest violence in Syria.
Russia makes final-ditch on Syria turmoil
Moscow has launched a flurry of diplomatic activity in an attempt to convince global players to sign up to the idea of an international summit on Syria that would include Iran.
Russian officials briefed the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara last week over the context and potential participants at the international conference; Turkey, however, is still continuing to assess the proposal, Turkish officials said.
During the talks, Russian diplomats said the main goal of the conference would be the implementation of the six-point peace plan brokered by U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan.
Meanwhile, Annan called Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to inform him of his meetings in New York, as well as discuss Russia’s proposal for the conference.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov revealed his country’s proposal for the conference on Syria last week while he was in China to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Lavrov said states which have a certain influence on Syria, such as the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Turkey, Iran, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the European Union, should participate in the conference.
Lavrov will visit Iran tomorrow to discuss the upcoming Moscow talks on Tehran’s nuclear program, as well as the Syria crisis, his ministry said.
“The focus of attention ... will be on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, with the emphasis on the current transformation processes taking place in the Arab world and Syria,” news agencies quoted a ministry official as saying yesterday.
“Without Iran’s involvement, the opportunity to exert constructive pressure on Syria will not be implemented in full,” the ministry added.
Elsewhere, France said it would hold talks with Russia on its idea of an international Syria conference while urging the new head of the opposition Syrian National Council to unite the anti-government forces.
“We will have new contacts with Russia this week on the subject,” a ministry spokesman, Vincent Floreani, told a press conference yesterday.
France has said it backs Annan’s bid to bring key powers into a contact group on the Syria crisis, but Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said Iran could in no way be involved in such a group.