Russia signals to Syria's Assad to stay silent on re-election

MOSCOW Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:14pm IST

A man walks through a graveyard that was damaged by what activists said was shelling from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Kadi Askar neighbourhood of Aleppo, December 14, 2013. REUTERS/Mahmoud Hebbo

A man walks through a graveyard that was damaged by what activists said was shelling from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Kadi Askar neighbourhood of Aleppo, December 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mahmoud Hebbo

Related Topics

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian diplomat signalled on Thursday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should refrain from statements suggesting he might seek re-election because it could fuel tension before planned peace talks.

Russia has been Assad's most important international ally during Syria's civil war, but the remarks by Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to Interfax news agency appeared to be a rare public criticism of Assad by Moscow.

Assad told Syria's Al Mayadeen television in October that he had no intention of quitting, despite pressure to do so from the United States and rebels fighting government forces. He also saw no obstacles to being nominated for a new term.

"Such rhetorical statements affect the atmosphere and do not make the situation any calmer," Bogdanov was quoted as saying.

Looking ahead to an international peace conference which is planned on Syria next month in Geneva, he said: "Our position is that ahead of the start of negotiations, there should be no remarks that could displease anyone or provoke emotions and a response. They should rather be avoided."

Bogdanov has been involved in preparations for the peace talks that are due to start in Geneva on Jan 22.

Russia has blocked Western-backed efforts to condemn Assad at the U.N. Security Council or to push him out of power. Moscow says it is not trying to prop up Assad but that his departure cannot be a precondition for peace moves.

(Reporting by Katya Golubkova, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

FILED UNDER:

World Wrap

Reuters Showcase

Photo

Vodafone Tax Case

India's Vodafone decision eases tax worries for Shell, others  Full Article 

Facebook Earnings

Facebook Earnings

Facebook tops Wall Street revenue target in 4th quarter.  Full Article 

Japanese Hostage

Japanese Hostage

Islamic State said to set new deadline for hostage swap  Full Article 

Cricket World Cup

Cricket World Cup

Batting holds key for team India in World Cup  Full Article 

Photo

Australian Open

Serena fends off Keys to book blockbuster Sharapova final   Full Article | Related Story 

Road To Development

Road To Development

Build better roads in developing world to bolster food supplies - study  Full Article 

Photo

Laser Pioneer Dies

Laser's co-inventor, Nobel laureate Charles Townes, dead at 99  Full Article 

New ODI Record

New ODI Record

Sri Lanka's Sangakkara breaks ODI record for dismissals  Full Article 

Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya refugees say traffickers in Malaysia abuse and kill.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage