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Assad welcomes Russia-U.S. understanding, doubts West's intentions


10:29, May 19, 2013

DAMASCUS, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has welcomed the new consensus between Moscow and Washington regarding finding a political approach to solve Syria's 26-month- old political crisis, but also expressed skepticism about the West 's real intentions.

"We have welcomed the Russian-American rapprochement and we hope that there would be an international meeting to help the Syrians to overcome this crisis," Assad said in an interview with the Argentine news agency whose contents were carried by Syria's state news agency SANA on Saturday.

While welcoming the move, Assad doubted the Western powers' real intentions, saying that "we don't think that much of the Western countries really want a solution in Syria."

Last week, the United States and Russia agreed to reactivate the Geneva Declaration agreed upon last year in a fresh push to craft a solution to Syria's protracted crisis. Both superpowers agreed to hold an international conference with the presence of representatives of both the Syrian administration and the opposition.

While the move was lauded by the international community as a viable chance to end the deadlock in Syria, local political analysts said the most important factor to make this conference fruitful is for all parties to work together with transparency and good intentions and to avoid placing preconditions.

Damascus also hailed the idea of the meeting, but required more details before deciding whether to attend.

On Tuesday, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said his government would not take part in any conference that could lead to infringing upon Syria's sovereignty.

For its part, the exiled oppositional National Coalition has said that the departure of Assad should be the main condition for dialogue with the current government of Syria.

In the interview, Assad stressed that his administration backs "any action that could stop the violence in Syria ... we are with any action that could lead to a political solution ..."

He, however, noted that no political solution could take hold with ongoing violence. "We don't think that many of the powers that support the terrorists (in Syria) want a solution to the crisis," he said.

"We support this endeavor and welcome it but we have to be realistic because there are powers that don't want a political solution but they push toward thwarting any dialogue or political solution ..."

The embattled leader stressed his administration's readiness to start a dialogue "with any party desirous of dialogue." He, however, excluded any party that could have made contacts with Israel, and also exempted "terrorists."

"No state would negotiate with terrorists," he said, adding that when the armed groups lay down their arms and come forward to the political dialogue, "we would have no problem."

Meanwhile, regarding the West's frenzy about Syria's alleged chemical weapons, Assad brushed aside the numerous claims and said "we must not waste our time on their statements."

About his presence in the helm of power, Assad said the decision is not a personal one.

It is the decision of the people. "If they want you, you stay, but if not, you leave ... you can't rule if you are unwanted from the people," he said.

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