Syria envoy says Assad can't be part of new government

CAIRO Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:32am IST

International peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi attends a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby (unseen) at the Arab League's headquarters in Cairo December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

International peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi attends a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby (unseen) at the Arab League's headquarters in Cairo December 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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CAIRO (Reuters) - The international peace envoy for Syria said on Wednesday he did not see President Bashar al-Assad being part of a transitional government envisaged by a peace plan agreed by major powers last year.

"Surely he would not be a member of that government," Lakhdar Brahimi, the envoy, told Reuters in an interview in Cairo, in some of his clearest language yet on the future he sees for Assad.

He reiterated his view that the peace plan agreed in Geneva last year remained "the base for a solution in Syria".

"There is no military solution," he said. "The solution shouldn't wait until 2014. It should be in 2013," he said.

He described a speech delivered by Assad this week as "narrow" and "uncompromising", adding that Assad had "narrowed his initiative by excluding some parties" from his own proposed talks to end the Syrian conflict.

"This wouldn't be a national dialogue," Brahimi said.

Brahimi added that he had made a mistake in an earlier interview with the BBC by describing the Assad speech as "sectarian".

"It's a slip of the tongue and I apologise," he said.

Brahimi said he would travel to Geneva on Thursday for a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. The meeting would discuss how to implement the Geneva plan.

He said both the opposition and Assad must accept the plan and work to implement it. "Of course this requires ceasing fire," he said.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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