Moscow: The discussion on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation can only take place once the dialogue with rebels begin and Assad’s exit will not be a pre-condition for that, Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said on Tuesday.
Jamil has said that the Syrian govt is ready to enter into a dialogue with Opposition on the issue of Assad's exit but it should not be a pre-condition for talks.
The US has downplayed the latest Syrian offer to discuss President Bashar al-Assad's resignation through dialogue, saying it sees nothing "terribly new", Xinhua reported.
Referring to remarks made by Jamil about Assad earlier Tuesday, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said , "Frankly, we didn't see anything terribly new there."
The Syrian official, following his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, had told reporters that Al-Assad's resignation could only be discussed during a national dialogue, and that the western attempt to force the President's ouster on the Syrian people would set a "very dangerous precedent".
"The Syrian government knows what it needs to do, and the Russian government, as you know, joined us in Geneva in setting forth a very clear transition plan," Nuland said.
She said the meeting with Jamil offered Russia another chance to encourage the Syrian government to follow through the transition plan as envisaged in Geneva.
"But, you know, there's no need to complicate it, as the Deputy Prime Minister appeared to do there," she added, noting "We still believe that the faster Al-Assad goes, the more chance there is to quickly move on to the day after."
Russia and China, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, have opposed a forced regime change in Syria and advocated a negotiated settlement of the 18-month conflict.
Jamil also has warned the United States against any military intervention in Syria.
President Barack Obama on Monday said that the US would reconsider its opposition to military involvement in the Syrian civil war, if Bashar Assad's regime deploys or uses chemical or biological weapons.
Speaking to reporters in Moscow on Tuesday, Jamil described Obama's statements as "propagandistic threats" connected with the US Presidential election. But he also said they indicate that the West is looking for a pretext to intervene militarily.
Jamil warned that such intervention was "impossible" and said, "Those who are contemplating this evidently want to see the crisis expand beyond Syria's borders."
The Syrian civil war already is spilling over into neighboring Lebanon.
(With Agencies Inputs)
First Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 09:37