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Geneva Talks Back Transitional Government in Syria

The participants in the Geneva talks support creation of a "transitional government body with full executive powers" in Syria, UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan said.

The participants in the Geneva talks support creation of a "transitional government body with full executive powers" in Syria, UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan said.

The interim body should include members of the current government, the opposition and other groups, Annan told journalists. The actual makeup of the transitional government will depend on the Syrian people.

"We are determined to work together urgently and intensively, to bring an end to the violence and the human rights abuses and the launch of a Syrian-led political process leading to a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," Annan said.

The conference of foreign ministers of the "action group," which includes the Western powers, Russia and China, was held in Geneva on Saturday.

Annan's proposal is aimed at providing a path forward that would be supported by all Syrians and lead to a genuinely democratic and pluralistic state with free elections, respect for human rights and equal opportunity for all, he said.

The bloodshed must end and work toward settling the conflict must continue, he said.

After Annan’s statement, first U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to the press.

Their comments indicated that a full-fledged peace deal remains elusive.

Clinton vowed to ratchet up pressure on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime at upcoming meetings in Paris and Cairo, and to draft a UN Security Council resolution that includes reference to Chapter VII, which covers military intervention.

She ruled out the idea that Assad might participate in the transitional government, saying that representatives of the opposition would never consent to his presence there.

"Assad will still have to go. He will never pass the mutual consent test, given the blood on his hands," she said.

In turn, Lavrov once more rejected the idea of imposing an outside solution on Syria and reiterated Russia’s commitment to Annan’s six-point peace plan, saying implementation would require reining in the Syrian opposition, which Lavrov said is intent on provoking the Assad regime.

"We consider it to be of key importance that there is no attempt in the document to impose upon the Syrian side any kind of transitional process," he said.

Lavrov also raised the possibility of holding talks in Moscow, to which representatives from Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia would be invited.

Moscow will continue contacts with the Syrian opposition, Lavrov said, adding that the next such meeting will take place next week. He did not elaborate on where the negotiations will take place.

Meanwhile, the violence in Syria continues. The BBC reported that more than 180 people were killed on Friday from government shelling in the capital Damascus and in Homs.

Eyewitnesses said residents were fleeing the Damascus suburb of Douma on Saturday amid an assault by government forces.



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