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Syria's Assad says not to abandon principles despite intensifying pressures


09:30, February 12, 2013

DAMASCUS, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stressed Monday that his country would never give up its principles "no matter how pressures are building up," the state- run SANA news agency reported.

The embattled leader made the remarks during his meeting Monday with a delegation of Jordanian lawyers, activists and engineers, said SANA. Assad stressed that the conspiracy his country is subject to targets not just Syria but all the Arabs, according to SANA.

SANA said the talks have touched upon the situation in the region and particularly in Syria.

Assad also met Monday with the recently-crowned Syrian Greek Orthodox Patriarch of the Levant and Antioch, John al-Yaziji, who was quoted by the state media as saying Monday that he is deeply confident that Syria would emerge victorious from its crisis. During his meeting with Assad, Yazji also underlined the importance that Syrians adhere fast to their national principles and unity to reach victory.

For his side, Assad emphasized the Orthodox Church's basic role in contributing to national unity to face the current attack on Syria "which aims to tear the united Syrian tissue and the common value of coexistence among the Syrians," according to SANA.

Yazji assumed his duties officially Sunday during a ceremonial mass held at al-Salib Church in Damascus with the presence of Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai, who said Syria is paining from "futile wars" and stressed that everything befalling the country "doesn't equal one innocent drop of Syria's blood."

The Christian clergy men are working hard to deepen their root in Syria despite the looming threat of the radical Islamists who were believed to have hijacked the anti-government movement.

In the meantime, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad stressed Monday that much of what is happening in Syria currently is due to its support of the Palestinian cause and its position towards the Arab-Israeli conflict.

His remarks were made during a meeting with a delegation from the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization headed by, Zakaraya Ibrahim, director of the Refugee Affairs Department at the committee.

The two sides discussed relations between the Syrian and Palestinian people and the state of Palestinian refugees in Syria.

Miqdad affirmed that Syria will continue to support the struggle of the Palestinian people to realize their legitimate aspirations, stressing the need to keep them out of the current events in Syria.

According to SANA, the delegation members briefed Miqdad on the Palestinian political and internal situation, and expressed hopes that Syria will emerge from the crisis and remain a base of supporting Arab rights and causes, particularly the Palestinian cause and rights.

The Palestinian delegation's visit aims to discuss the situation of the Palestinian refugees in Syria whose camps have been sucked in the whirlpool of violence that has hit Syria since almost two years year with no foreseeable solution.

Meanwhile, the oppositional National Coordination Body (NCB) stressed Monday that its members still believe that international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi can bring about a political solution to the long-standing conflict based on the Geneva Statement.

In a press conference held Monday in the capital Damascus, Raja al-Naser, general secretary of the NCB, stressed that the Geneva Statement is the base of finding a political solution for Syria.

He, however, demanded that some points in the statement need to be clarified, such as details about the nature of the transitional period and the prerogatives of the interim government.

An action group comprising of some world powers met in July 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland, and agreed on the need to establish a transitional government of national unity in Syria to include members of both the government and opposition. It would also oversee the drafting of a new constitution and elections.

The plan does not clearly bar Assad from taking part in the power transition.

Meanwhile, al-Naser stressed that there is a shift in the international community's stance toward the need for a political solution for the situation in Syria "after some international and regional countries realized that the military showdown will not bring the conflict to close."

The NCB, however, made no reference to the recent conditioned initiative by the head of the opposition coalition abroad, Moaz al- Khatib, who recently declared his readiness to embark on negotiations with the Syrian government so long as the negotiations will result in the departure of the Assad administration.

The Syrian government has not even dignified al-Khatib with a response, but some local analysts and parliamentarians said the dialogue should not be based on preconditions and stressed that any dialogue or political solution should be based on the political program outlined last month by Assad.

In his latest televised speech to the nation, Assad offered a three-phase initiative to politically resolve the crisis, which includes a ceasefire, a comprehensive national dialogue on a " national charter", and the establishment of a broad-based government and parliament.

The president also described the conflict as one not between the authority and the opposition, but "between the nation and our enemies," calling for the defense of the country.

The president's vision, however, was dismissed by the opposition, adding more complications to the Syrian political landscape.

About 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011, according to a study released last week by the UN Human Rights Office.

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