UK meeting plans for possible post-Assad Syria
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will host an international meeting to plan for the period after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's "inevitable" departure, the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.
The meeting will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, and delegates will include Syria experts, academics in post-conflict stabilisation, representatives of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) opposition group and other agencies.
The gathering highlights jitters over the shape of a post-Assad Syria, and experts fear regional and sectarian rivalries could extend the bloodshed and destabilise other countries in the strategically sensitive and volatile region.
"Aim is to galvanise planning for political transition in Syria," Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Twitter.
"Assad's departure from power is inevitable. Vital that international community plans ahead for the day after in Syria," he said.
Hague, along with other Western leaders, dismissed a defiant speech by Assad on Sunday, which the Syrian president billed as peace plan but in which he rejected talks with his opponents. Rebels described the speech as a renewed declaration of war.
While many experts say Assad's ousting is all but certain, there is no sign his rule will end soon. Rebels are edging closer to the centre of the capital Damascus, but Assad still has backing from powerful allies Russia, China and Iran.
More than 60,000 people have died in the uprising which has developed into a civil war since it erupted in March 2011, the United Nations said last week.
Foreign ministers and SNC chief Mouaz Alkhatib are not expected to attend the talks. The meeting is not open to reporters, and the conclusions are expected to be published in a closing communique. (Reporting by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Alison Williams)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this
- UPDATE 6-Obama warns on Crimea, orders sanctions over Russian moves in Ukraine
- CEO in apparent suicide was bitcoin fan, had other issues, too
- Man called Bitcoin's father denies ties, leads LA car chase
- Singapore's megachurches move to export lucrative religion
- Exclusive - Pimco's Gross declares El-Erian is 'trying to undermine me'
Crimea's parliament voted on Thursday to join Russia, and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum in 10 days, in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian region that drew a sharp riposte from U.S. President Barack Obama. Full Article