Text of report in English by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman
website on 26 December
[Unattributed report: "Turkey objects to transition with Assad"]
Ankara believes that joint United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi's US-Russian initiative for a transition in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad is not possible as the Syrian opposition rejects any compromise with the regime.
A Turkish diplomatic official who spoke to Today's Zaman on condition of anonymity stated that it was not an easy task to convince the opposition forces to enter into a transition with Assad, as they have recently furthered their struggle against the Syrian regime. "The opposition would never accept such an initiative. However, if some countries were able to convince the opposition, then there could be a way to work on new ideas. We are open to any initiative which receives the support of the opposition," said the official.
Recently, the French daily newspaper Le Figaro spoke of a US- Russian initiative for a transition in Syria, adding that a solution in the offing would involve keeping Assad in power until 2014 while preventing him from further renewing his mandate.
According to a report published by Turkey's Hurriyet daily on Wednesday, Brahimi, who met with Assad on Monday at the presidential palace in Damascus, brought the double option US-Russian initiative to Assad. "The first option is the establishment of a transitional government under the leadership of Assad and will include the opposition and those who were not involved in the bloody crackdown in Syria. This government should aim for a democratic election that will not involve Assad's candidacy. The second option is that Assad leave the country and a transitional government, which would include a mixed opposition-government team, be established to lead the country to the next election," said the daily.
Following his meeting with Assad, Brahimi said he and Assad exchanged views on the crisis and discussed possible steps forward, which he did not disclose.
Turkey denies confirmation of Assad asking Venezuela for asylum
Turkey has denied reports confirming that Syria's embattled president Assad has asked Venezuela for asylum for his family as opposition forces continue to make military gains on the ground.
According to a report published by Turkey's Aksam daily on Wednesday, Turkey's embassy in Caracas asked Venezuelan authorities to confirm claims that Assad asked Venezuela for asylum and that Venezuela's Foreign Ministry informed Turkish diplomats that the claims were true.
The report also stated that Turkish officials in Caracas visited the Foreign Ministry and that Venezuelan officials confirmed the letter but declined to provide details regarding its content.
Earlier this month, Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Al- Mokdad, visited several Latin American countries, including Venezuela. He received mostly symbolic backing for his government's 21-month battle against the armed opposition.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has gone even further than his neighbours to prop up Assad, sending at least three shipments of diesel oil to the Syrian government, which is straining under economic embargos imposed by the United States and the European Union.
Al Mokdad told reporters then that he brought a private message for Chavez from Assad but declined to reveal the content.
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