05:19 GMT +319 July 2019
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    A Syrian girl holds her national flag bearing a portrait of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

    Assad: Presidential Elections in Syria Not on Table in Astana Talks

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    Syrian leader Bashar Assad said presidential elections will not be broached at the Astana talks next week.

    BEIRUT (Sputnik) — Early elections of the president of Syria or their date will not be discussed during the Astana talks on Syrian settlement, the country's leader Bashar Assad said in an interview with the Japanese TBS broadcaster.

    "Anything that will be discussed should be based on the constitution, because it’s not about the government and the opposition or the government and the terrorist groups; it’s about every Syrian citizen who has the right to define the future of Syria… When we have election, or could be early election – it’s not on the table now – but this is the only way to say whether I have to leave or not," Assad said, according to the interview transcript published by Syria's SANA News Agency.

    Assad added that he did not consider himself the reason for the country's problems and highlighted that he did not run from the country after the crisis had broken out.

    "In the crisis, the President should be at the helm, should take care of the crisis, then after the crisis is finished, he can say maybe he wants to stay or wants to leave, and this is where the Syrian people would tell him ‘stay’ or ‘no, you have to leave, we don’t want you anymore,’" Assad said.

    Assad's presidency is an acute topic of debates on Syria's future. The United States, the European Union and their allies want Assad to resign, while Russia and Iran consider the future of Syria to be the matter that Syrian people should determine.

    The peace negotiations on Syria will take place next week in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Syrian opposition groups agreed to attend the talks brokered by Turkey and Russia as an attempt to end the six-year civil war in the country, which sees government forces fighting against a number of opposition and terrorist groups, including Daesh, which is banned in Russia as other states worldwide.

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    Astana talks on Syria, The Syrian war, Bashar al-Assad, Astana, Syria
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