President Bashar al-Assad said today that any transitional government in Syria should include both the regime and opposition, as UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged greater efforts to tackle the country’s refugee crisis.
In an interview published, Assad told Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency it would be “logical for there to be independent forces, opposition forces and forces loyal to the government represented” in any transitional body.
Assad did not specify which opposition groups should be included in the government but the statement comes as Damascus faces international pressure to compromise at UN-mediated talks aimed at ending the five-year conflict that has killed some 270,000 people.
In a sign of how high the stakes are, the UN chief exhorted a conference in Geneva “to address the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time” which has seen an estimated 4.8 million Syrians fleeing their homeland.
“There is no alternative to negotiating a political transition that will lead to a new Syria,” Ban said. Talks led by Ban’s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura paused last week, but the sides remained deadlocked over the fate of Assad, whom the opposition insists must leave power before a transitional government is agreed.
In the interview, Assad did not touch on his own future, saying only that the makeup of the transitional government should be agreed upon at the negotiations in Switzerland.
“There are many questions that need to be discussed in Geneva, but there are not difficult questions,” Assad said. “I don’t consider them difficult, they can all be resolved.”