The United States and France on Sunday accused the Assad regime of trying to disrupt a new round of peace talks set to begin on Monday and said Russia and Iran would need to show the Assad regime was “living up to” what had been agreed.
The Assad regime’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Saturday that his government would not discuss presidential elections at peace talks in Geneva this week or hold talks with any party wishing to discuss the question of the presidency.
“It’s a provocation…a bad sign and doesn’t correspond to the spirit of the ceasefire,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told a news conference with his British, German, Italian, US and EU counterparts.
Ayrault said that there an urgent need to start a political transition process in Syria, adding that this will be in the heart of negotiations. He warned against returning to the status quo ante, adding that things must change.
Calling Moallem’s comments a clear attempt to “disrupt the process,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said the Assad regime and its backers were mistaken if they thought they could continue to test the boundaries of a fragile truce.
Accusing the Assad regime of carrying out the most violations of the truce, Kerry said Russian President Vladimir Putin needed to look at how the Bashar al-Assad was acting.
“So President Putin, who is invested in supporting Assad, with an enormous commitment—and it has made a difference obviously on the battlefield—should be somewhat concerned about the fact that President Assad sent his foreign minister out yesterday to try and act as a spoiler, to take off the table something that President Putin and Iran had committed to,” Kerry said. “This is a moment of truth, a moment where all of us have to be responsible.”
The Syrian Coalition on Saturday stressed that “Russia is complicit with the Assad regime in carrying out crimes. Russia cannot be a monitor of the implementation of the truce or a sponsor for the political process.”
“The Assad regime’s repeated violations of the truce agreement, backed by Russia, are undoubtedly designed to thwart efforts aimed at de-escalating the conflict. These breaches pose a serious threat to the political process in Syria and will further fuel the conflict and terrorism,” the statement went on.
The Coalition warned that “the temporary truce the opposition has agreed to is not open-ended. The FSA and rebel groups who signed off on the agreement reserve the right to respond to regime attacks and breaches.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)