White House says Assad role in Syria unity government a 'non-starter'

Assad argued his regime should take part in a transitional government

Afp March 30, 2016

WASHINGTON: The White House on Wednesday indicated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should not be part of any transitional unity government, echoing views from regime opponents inside the war-shattered country.

Responding to an interview in which Assad argued his regime should take part in a transitional government, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Assad's own participation would be a "non-starter."

"I don't know whether he envisioned himself being a part of that national unity government. Obviously that would be a non-starter for us."

A row over Assad's fate has helped paralyze diplomatic efforts to end the country's brutal five-year conflict.

Assad told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti it would be "logical for there to be independent forces, opposition forces and forces loyal to the government represented" in the new authorities.

But he pushed back against opposition demands that it should be put in place without his participation, insisting that the transitional body they are calling for is "illogical and unconstitutional".

"Neither in the Syrian constitution nor in the constitution of any other country in the world is there anything that could be called a transitional body of power," Assad said.


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