Syria foreign minister says Assad will stay on until 2014 or beyond


Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem meets with Iraqi Prime Minister during an unannounced visit on May 26, 2013 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Moualem recently said that Assad will stay in power until the elections in Syria in 2014.


Hadi Mizban

Syria's foreign minister told a Lebanese television channel Wednesday that Assad will remain in power until 2014.

Walid al-Moualem said that Assad may also run for another term beyond the 2014 elections.

The announcement may complicate upcoming peace talks with the opposition, which has said that Assad's exit is key to any agreement.

Moualem also said that any deal struck at the Geneva 2 talks may be put to a referendum in Syria.

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"From now until the next elections, President Bashar Assad is president of the Syrian Arab Republic," he said, according to the Associated Press.

"Will Assad run in 2014 or not? This depends on the circumstances in 2014 and on the popular will. If the people want him to run, he will run. If the people don't want that, I don't think he will. Let us not jump the gun."

The foreign minister also said that Syria would retaliate against Israel if it struck the country again.

On Wednesday, Russia condemned a US-sponsored resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva deploring the Syrian government's attacks against civilians.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov called it "one-sided" and "odious."

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