Assad says he "can't think of living outside Syria"

2013-03-03 08:30:09 GMT2013-03-03 16:30:09(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has stressed that his departure will not stop the fighting in Syria, adding that it's "nonsense" to suggest that the conflict in the country is about the president and his future.

Assad made his remarks during an interview with the British Sunday Times published on Sunday, during which he described himself as a patriotic Syrian that can't think of living outside his country.

"No patriotic person will think about living outside his country. I am like any other patriotic Syrians," Assad said when asked if he would leave to improve the prospects for peace.

He stressed that it was nonsense to suggest that the conflict was about the president and his future, saying that "Clearly this is absurd, and recent precedents in Libya, Yemen and Egypt bear witness to this."

The embattled leader made the remarks as some superpowers have renewed their calls on him to step down.

Last week, newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that he was drafting diplomatic proposals to persuade al- Assad to give up power.

Kerry did not detail any potential offers or arguments to Assad, but hinted that his upcoming visit destinations will be Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia where he wants to talk with allies about ways to "ease Assad out."

However, and during his recent interview, Assad accused Kerry of wasting time by trying to ease him out of power, noting that his leadership was an internal matter.

"Any Syrian subject wouldn't be raised with any foreigners. We only discuss it with Syrians within Syria so I am not going to discuss it with anyone who is coming from abroad," Assad stressed.

Assad elaborated that "we have friends, we listen to their advice but at the end, it's our decision as Syrians to make what's good for our country."

Meanwhile, Assad slammed the British government's recent stance toward Syria, especially after recent statements about Britain's desire to arm the Syrian rebels, branding London government as " naive, confused, unrealistic" because it has been trying to end an EU arms embargo so that the rebels could be supplied with weapons.

He said that such a move could further inflame the conflict on ground, adding that "the problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlights this tradition of bullying and hegemony..."

In regard of the opposition, Assad adopted a conciliatory tone and renewed invitations to the opposition parties to join in a national dialogue, according the Sunday Times.

"We are ready to negotiate with anyone, including militants who surrender their arms," he said, adding that "we are not going to deal with terrorists who are determined to carry weapons, to terrorize people, to kill civilians, to attack public places or private enterprise and to destroy the country."

"We have opposition that are political entities and we have armed terrorists. We can engage in dialogue with the opposition, but we cannot engage in dialogue with terrorists. We fight terrorism," he stressed.

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