Assad: Foreign powers must end rebel support

Syrian president tells UN-Arab envoy that peace talks can only take place when foreign states withdraw assistance.

    The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has said he is open to peace talks but insisted that they would not go ahead unless foreign nations stopped supporting rebel fighters.

    The comments came during a meeting on Wednesday with peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus.

    "The Syrian people are the only ones who have the right to decide on Syria's future, and any solution or agreement must have the acceptance of the Syrian people, and reflect their desires," Assad told Brahimi.

    The meeting came as part of a regional tour aimed at  garnering support for a US-Russian peace initiative for Syria planned next month in Geneva.

    Assad also warned there must not be "any foreign intervention" in seeking a solution to Syria's civil war, in which an estimated 115,000 people have died  in 31 months.

    "Putting an end to support for the terrorists and pressuring the states that support them is the most important step to prepare... for dialogue," Assad said.

    Since the start of an anti-Assad revolt in March 2011, Damascus has systematically branded the uprising-turned-rebellion as a foreign-backed plot. 

    "The success of any political solution is linked to putting an end to support funnelled to terrorist groups," he added.

    State television also reported UN-Arab League envoy Brahimi as agreeing with Assad that the Syrians themselves need to find a solution to the conflict ravaging the country.

    "The efforts being made for the Geneva conference to be held are focused on finding the way for the Syrians themselves to meet and to agree on solving the crisis as quickly as possible," Brahimi said in the meeting, his first with Assad since December last year.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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