Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says only the Syrian people can determine the fate of the country and decide on the outcome of the forthcoming Geneva II conference.
He made the remarks in a meeting with UN-Arab League Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus on Wednesday.
“The Syrian people are the only ones who have the right to decide on Syria’s future, and any solution or agreement must have the acceptance of the Syrian people, and reflect their desires,” Assad said, referring to the Geneva II talks.
The Wednesday meeting was aimed at paving the way for the upcoming Syria talks in the Swiss city of Geneva.
The Geneva II Conference initiative was proposed by Russia and the US on May 7. The date of the long-delayed event has changed many times as Syria’s foreign-backed opposition coalition remains divided over participating in the meeting.
In his talks with Brahimi, the Syrian president called for an end to the support for armed terrorist groups, describing it as the most efficient way to resolve the conflict in the Arab country.
“Putting an end to support for the terrorists and pressuring the states that support them is the most important step to prepare … for dialogue,” Assad said, adding, “The success of any political solution is linked to putting an end to support funneled to terrorist groups.”
Brahimi, for his part, highlighted the fact that Syrians themselves should find a way out of the crisis in the country.
“The efforts being made for the Geneva conference to be held are focused on finding the way for the Syrians themselves to meet and to agree on solving the crisis as quickly as possible,” Brahimi said in the meeting.
Brahimi arrived in Damascus on Monday as part of a Middle East tour to muster support for the Geneva II conference, which is scheduled to be held in November.
During the meeting, Brahimi also briefed Assad on his tour of regional countries and efforts to help end the nearly three-year conflict.
On Sunday, more than twenty foreign-backed militant groups fighting against the Syrian government rejected the Geneva II conference.
The militant groups also warned that anyone who attends the Geneva II peace talks would be committing “treason, and … would have to answer for it before our courts.”
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since II011. According to reports, the US and Saudi Arabia, along with their Western and regional allies, are supporting the Takfiri groups operating inside the country.
According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the violence.