Assad's exit not precondition for dialogue: Moscow

Moscow, Jan 14 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's exit cannot be a precondition for a deal to resolve the country's crisis, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"Our partners are convinced that Assad's exit is essential as a precondition. This is a precondition, which is not mentioned in the Geneva Communique and cannot be fulfilled, because this does not depend on anyone," Lavrov said during a three-party meeting with international Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and US diplomats.

"President Assad announced initiatives to invite all opposition members for a dialogue. Yes, probably, these initiatives are not far-reaching, someone may think they are not serious enough. But this is a proposal," Lavrov said.

Recently, Assad proposed a plan to resolve the crisis which includes a national reconciliation conference, the formation of a new government and an amnesty.

The Syrian opposition has rejected the peace initiative, calling it "empty rhetoric".

The Russian foreign minister called on Syria's opposition to announce their ideas on "how to enter a dialogue".

Syria has been engulfed in a civil war between opposition forces and government troops since March 2011. According to UN estimates, over 60,000 people have been killed.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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