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‘West’s chemical weapons talk just pretext for intervention’ - Syrian Deputy PM Jamil

President Obama’s recent statement about a chemical weapons “red line” is just the West’s pretext for intervention, Syria’s Deputy PM has said, also stating that Bashar Assad’s resignation is discussable but cannot be a precondition for talks.

"The West is looking for an excuse for direct intervention. If this excuse does not work, it will look for another excuse,” said Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil speaking to journalists after meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.Commenting on Monday’s statement by President Barack Obama that the US will intervene once Syria deploys chemical or biological weapons, Jamil said that these are statements and threats “linked to the US elections.”Jamil warned against military action in Syria saying that it is “impossible” because it would turn the conflict into a regional one, stating "Those who are contemplating this evidently want to see the crisis expand beyond Syria's borders."Jamil also drew parallels between the West’s current focus on Syria's chemical weapons and the situation in Iraq, where the existence of suspected chemical weapons was never confirmed. The Deputy PM said that Damascus is ready for talks with the opposition, stating “We are ready to discuss Assad’s resignation – but not as precondition.”Going further, he stressed that a discussion about the resignation of President Assad – desired by both the rebels and the West – can only take place after talks start.“Demanding a resignation before the mechanisms will be found for the Syrian people [to express their opinion] – is this a democratic approach? No, that’s an attempt to enforce a certain decision on us,” Jamil said.Both Russian and Syrian politicians expressed their hope that newly appointed UN peace representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, will stick to Kofi Annan’s six point plan and the decisions made during the Geneva talks. Jamil reiterated that Damascus is ready to find a solution to the long lasting crisis.However, he stressed that he sees a paradox in the Wests stance: on the one hand they are “shedding tears” about the situation in Syria, but on the other they are “putting a spoke in the wheel”. He added that external meddling in Syria’s interior affairs is the main problem which stands in the way of ending the blody crisis.Jamil said that Syrian government is working on national conciliation and that all sides should compromise. As a step in that direction, he said, Syria is ready to grant guarantees of security to opposition activists who have fled the country, but would like to return home to “solve national problems”. “I would like to tell all Syrians inside and outside the country… We are ready to listen to everyone. Our doors are open for political and non-political leaders, who are now abroad,”said Jamil.Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov also said he believes that there is still a chance for conciliation in Syria, even though “there are many antagonists to such a solution”.He said that “conciliation” is the only way to stop the bloodshed and provide the conditions for Syrians to start talks about their country’s future.

Lawrence Freeman from Executive Intelligence Review Magazine agrees that the US is searching for a pretext to intervene in Syria.“What is being said now is exactly what we saw with the scenario leading up to the Iraq war. We saw the same thing in Libya,” he told RT. “The idea that we should move 50-60,000 troops into Syria to protect chemical weapons is a pretext for overthrowing the government.”The Obama administration’s aggressive stance against Syria is being pushed by electoral politics in the US, columnist and war correspondent Eric Margolis, told RT, adding that getting involved in Syria will not help American interests in the region.“The United States has no strategic interest in Syria. What it is all about is Iran and the fact that the US is in a very sensitive election year. There is pressure on Obama administration – ‘Do something!’ – the Republicans are screaming."

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