Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said today that the priority at upcoming peace talks in the Kazakhstani capital Astana would be to hammer out a viable ceasefire.
“The Astana talks will be a chance for all Syrian parties to discuss everything,” Al-Assad told Japan’s TBS television channel.”My understanding is that the priority will be to achieve a ceasefire,” he added.Asked what he would do if the talks produced calls for a transitional government in Syria, he said the Syrian constitution, drafted by the Assad regime, included no such concept.
Instead, he asserted, a national unity government – including representatives of different groups – might be discussed by meeting participants. If such a unity government were established, he added, parliamentary elections might then be held.
The UN-led Geneva process, which aims to end Syria’s civil war, calls for the establishment of an interim government – including both regime and opposition representatives – until a new government can be elected in public polls.
Talks between the Assad regime and opposition negotiators are slated to begin on 23 January in Astana, sponsored by Russia, Turkey and including Iran. Following last month’s ceasefire deal, brokered by Ankara and Moscow, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by both countries to find a political solution to the six-year-old conflict.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.