17:26 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    Western Officials in Secret Talks With Syrian Leadership - Assad

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    According to the Syrian president, Western officials are in secret talks with the leadership of Syria, repeating what the US want them to say.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Western governments are in secret negotiations with the leadership in Syria and echo the United States’ anti-government stance out of fear of upsetting Washington, the Arab republic’s President Bashar Assad said Thursday.

    "They attack us politically and then they send officials to deal with us under the table, especially the security, including your [the Australian] government," Assad said in an interview with Australia’s SBS News scheduled to air Friday.

    Assad argued in the excerpt that most western officials "don’t want to upset the United States" and "only repeat what the United States want them to say."

    Earlier, Turkish mediator Ismail Hakki Pekin told Sputnik that relations between Ankara and Damascus have improved in recent secret talks, as both sides are showing willingness for dialogue.

    According to a recent report by Algerian newspaper Al Watan, there has been contact between the two governments mediated by the Algerian government.

    Russia recognizes Assad as the legitimate authority in Syria, and has repeatedly stated the Syrian people should be free to choose their leadership without outside intervention. The United States and some of its allies have been supporting elements of the opposition, including Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaeda, and have urged Assad to resign.

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