MOSCOW, Russia, (AFP) – A top Syrian minister on Tuesday dismissed as mere election politics US President Barack Obama’s implicit threat to launch an attack should the regime deploy its chemical weapons stockpile.
“Obama’s threats are simply propaganda linked to the US elections,” Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil told reporters after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Jamil also brushed aside US along with European and Arab calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down as a precondition for any future peace negotiations.
But the country’s foreign economic assistance negotiator hinted broadly that Assad may be ready to relinquish power as part of an agreed settlement.
“As far as his resignation goes — making the resignation itself a condition for holding dialogue means that you will never be able to reach this dialogue,” said Jamil.
But he added: “Any problems can be discussed during negotiations. We are even ready to discuss this issue.”
The United States reiterated its call on Assad to go on Monday and said it would promote the idea during future meetings with new UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.