Syrian President Bashar Assad has welcomed the proposed peace talks for Syria agreed by Russia and the US, but voiced his skepticism about their prospects for success, saying that many forces don't really want to see a solution.
Speaking to Argentine newspaper Clarin and Telam news agency in Damascus, Assad said that “believing that a political conference will stop terrorism on the ground is unreal.”
Washington and Moscow have been at odds since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, but are now aiming to find common ground as they push for talks to take place between Assad’s regime and the opposition. If the efforts are successful, there are hopes that talks could take place at the end of this month and could lead to a multilateral summit.
“We welcome the Russian-US rapprochement and hope that an international meeting will take place to help the Syrians overcome the crisis ,” he said. “But we don’t think that a lot of Western nations really want to see a solution in Syria. And we don’t think that those many forces that help the terrorists want a solution to the crisis.”
As world powers lock horns over the Syrian conflict, Assad stressed that foreign states will not act as decision-makers in the crisis and any decision about reform in Syria will come from within.
He specifically addressed US Secretary of State John Kerry, who stated that Assad could play a major role in achieving peace by stepping down.
“I wonder how Kerry or anyone else has received a mandate from the Syrian people to decide whether someone should stay or go. Any decision about reforms in Syria will come from Syria, and neither the US nor any other state can intervene,” he stated.
Assad also reassured that he will not forsake his duty or his responsibilities. “
The captain does not flee his ship during a storm. The first thing he does is face the storm and guide the ship back to safety ," he said. "
I am not someone who flees from my responsibilities." The president stated once again that he was open to dialogue, maintaining that he wanted what was best for the Syrian people. However he underlined that there would be no dialogue with terrorists.
“Terrorism struck the United States and Europe – of course no government is willing to negotiate with terrorists. A dialogue with political force, but not with a terrorist who decapitates, murders and uses toxic gases which are chemical weapons,” he stated.
The Syrian civil war has been raging for more than two years now, with more than 80,000 people killed, according to UN estimates.