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U.S. downplays Syrian offer to discuss president's resignation

(Xinhua)

09:09, August 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. State Department on Tuesday downplayed the latest Syrian offer to discuss President Bashar al-Assad's resignation through dialogue, saying it saw nothing "terribly new."

"Frankly, we didn't see anything terribly new there," department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, referring to remarks made by Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil about al-Assad's fate.

The Syrian official, following his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow earlier in the day, 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 at a regular news briefing, referring to a meeting on Syria in late June that involved Russia and other world powers as well as regional players.

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 there.

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