DUBAI, May 30 (RIA Novosti) - The Syrian National Coalition welcomed the forthcoming international conference on Syria, proposed earlier by Russia and the United States, but reiterated that President Bashar Assad must resign before the opposition joins any peace talks, Al Jazeera reported.
“The Syrian Coalition welcomes the international efforts to find a political solution to what Syria has been suffering for two years while being committed to the principles of the revolution,” the coalition said in a statement on Wednesday.
Besides the resignation of Assad the opposition demands that all heads of Syria’s special services and high-ranking military officers should also quit their posts.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, however, said in an interview with the Beirut-based Arab news channel Mayadeen on Wednesday that Assad would remain the country’s president until the elections in 2014.
According to Al Jazeera, the Syrian opposition members are expected to choose a new coalition president, agree on interim government and reach a final decision on the so-called Geneva-2 conference, during their meeting in Istanbul on Thursday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced after a Moscow meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on May 7 that the two countries had decided to hold an international conference, aimed at facilitating a solution to the Syrian crisis through political dialogue. Moscow wants to involve all the nations which took part in the Geneva conference on Syria last summer.
Syria has been locked in an increasingly bloody civil war since demonstrations broke out against Assad regime in March 2011. According to UN estimates, some 80,000 people have been killed in the conflict.