Russia and the US have reached an agreement on a plan by which Syrian President Bashar Assad would step down and a transitional government would assume power, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Saturday.
Diplomatic sources told The Telegraph that the plan would create a transitional government made up of regime and opposition figures. It would require Assad to hand over power quickly and he would be encouraged to accept an orderly exile, they told the British newspaper.
Citing sources within the Syrian National Coalition, Asharq Al-Awsat reported two possibilities were being discussed.
One option is for Assad to be a partner in the transfer of power and as a result enjoy international protection. Another possibility is that world powers negotiate a transfer of power in his absence, and he would lose the protection that a settlement would produce.
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According to the report, the agreement was reached during meetings between Russian and American officials in Dublin and Geneva last week.The paper also reported that the National Coalition cited a Russian source as saying Assad has expressed willingness to negotiate his exit, and wants to assure protection for himself, 108 security military figures and 36 members of the Assad family.
National Coalition member Adib Shishakly told Asharq Al-Awsat that Assad wants to protect the military figures and family members from prosecution at the International Criminal Court.
Shishakly explained that the Russians “are convinced that they cannot protect Assad while he is in power and have no other choice but to lift his immunity and negotiate with the international community.”
Meanwhile, Syrian National Coalition member Walid al-Bunni told the newspaper that American and Russian representatives are holding talks with UN and Arab League envoy to SyriaLakhdar Brahimi as part of the efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis diplomatically. Al-Bunni stressed that the Syrian opposition would not agree to any solution that would keep Assad in power.
“Moscow’s point of view changed after it realized that the opposition is advancing on the ground and it after became convinced that Assad’s departure was only a matter of time,” he said.