Assad not committed to peace, says EU

Brussels, Jan 8 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Catherine Ashton, the European Union (EU) high representative for foreign affairs, has expressed regret over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's failure to undertake credible steps to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.

"The high representative regrets that the Syrian regime is not willing to commit to a credible political solution to the Syrian crisis which, according to the UN, has caused the death of 60,000 people since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011," a spokesman for Ashton said Monday.

Ashton also reiterated her call to the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces to engage with the UN and Arab League Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi and his mission "to find a peaceful solution through an inclusive and democratic transition".

The EU foreign policy chief has repeatedly stated that Assad must step down in order to bring about a political solution to the war in his country.

On Sunday, Assad addressed the Syrian people proposing a plan to resolve the country's crisis which includes holding a national reconciliation conference, drafting a new constitution, forming a new government and declaring a general amnesty.

In a rare televised speech that was met with cheering applause by his supporters, Assad denounced the opposition as "puppets of the West" and said Syria wanted to negotiate with the "master not the servants". He said the reconciliation conference would exclude "those who have betrayed Syria".

Assad's peace initiative has already been criticised by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and dismissed by the US and the Syrian National Coalition.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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