Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem has said that his country will attend the planned peace talks in the Swiss city of Geneva but advised the opposition not to even think of power handover.
“We will head to Geneva not to hand over power to the other side … We will go to Geneva in order to set up a real partnership and a broad national unity government,” Muallem told a news conference in Damascus on Monday.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s backer Russia and Western countries who support the opposition have agreed to push the process to encourage the Syrian regime and the opposition to sit down at the negotiation table for talks in Geneva.
Different positions of the two sides on the nature of talks have hitherto been stalling negotiations.
Damascus declared in May that they would attend the planned talks after the Syrian president earlier threw doubts on the possibility of being part of the talks.
Moualem also said if the proposed talks in Geneva went ahead, there should be a ceasefire and authorities in Damascus were ready to discuss mechanisms for monitoring it.
He therefore called on Syria’s neighbours to stop arming rebels battling to overthrow Assad and said a decision by Western and Arab countries on Saturday to arm those rebels would prolong the crisis and deepen the bloodshed.
According to Moualem, rebel fighters had little prospect of matching the power of the army despite Western and Arab pledges to send them weapons.
“If they expect or fantasize that they can create a balance of power, I think they will need to wait years for that to happen,” he said.