From US, with conditions: Russia gets Syrian crisis plan - newspaper
Washington is calling on Moscow to persuade President Assad, who is in the midst of a fierce struggle to maintain his grip on power in the face of a protracted militant challenge, to step down voluntarily, Kommersant daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.
According to the American plan both the opposition and supporters of the President should agree to a ceasefire and form a transitional government. It was presented to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at their meetings in Phnom Penh and Dublin.
The transitional government would be representative of all faiths and groups, which would help prevent clashes along religious lines.
The US plan proclaims to “minimize the risk of pro-government forces using chemical weapons and the possibility of such weapons falling into the hands of uncontrolled forces,” Kommersant reported, quoting the document.
Earlier, President Assad excluded the possibility of his government resorting to the use of chemical weapons, calling such a move “suicidal.”
Meanwhile, not only Moscow, but also the Syrian government is practically guaranteed to give a tepid response to the reported US plan, which the American side says will be “feasible if Bashar al-Assad is not present in the transitional government,” according to Kommersant.
Although Russia supports the idea of forming a transitional government in Syria, it has no intention of trying to persuade Assad to resign his post.
Russia is certain that President Assad will never agree to step down voluntarily, and the Syrian leader reiterated this point on several occasions, Kommersant said.
Moreover, Moscow believes it would be more appropriate for countries posing a threat to Assad – for example the United States – should try to persuade him to resign, it said.
"All decisions to reform the political system of Syria should be made by Syrians themselves without any foreign intervention and attempts to impose ready-made recipes on them," Kommersant quoted Russian Foreign Ministry officials as saying.