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00:44 GMT +3 hours18 December 2014
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Syria Denies Assad Ready to Stand Down

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Syrian authorities denied on Friday reports that President Bashar al-Assad was preparing to leave office “in an orderly way.”

Syrian authorities denied on Friday reports that President Bashar al-Assad was preparing to leave office “in an orderly way.”

A statement on Syrian state television said the rumors were “completely devoid of truth.”

The denial came after comments by Russia’s ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, to French radio.

"At the Geneva conference, there was a final communique that foresees a transition towards a more democratic system," Orlov told RFI radio.

"This final communique was accepted by Assad. Assad nominated his representative to lead the negotiations with the opposition for this transition. That means he accepted to leave, but in an orderly way,” he went on.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said later that Orlov's comments had been taken out of context.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France – agreed on June 30 in Geneva that a transitional government should be set up in Syria. The text of the document said this could include members of the government and opposition, although Russia later objected to U.S. suggestions that the deal ruled out any role for Assad.

The United Nations, quoting Syrian rights activists, says some 16,000 people have died in Syria since the start of thenow almost 17-month revolt against Assad.

Russia's Foreign Minstry dismissed on Friday rumors that Assad’s British-born wife, Asma, had fled to Moscow following the death of the country’s defense minister in a suicide blast in Damascus on Wednesday.