In Focus | Syria

Qatar PM: Al Assad exit a must for Syria peace

The whole region risks slipping into long-term instability, he warns

  • AFP
  • Published: 18:49 May 22, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Reuters
  • Civilians search for survivors under rubble after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, in Qusair town near Homs, May 21, 2013. Syria’s leading opposition group called on Wednesday for rebels across the country to send reinforcements to the strategic border town Qusair, where heavy fighting has drawn in fighters from Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement.

Doha: Qatar’s prime minister said on Wednesday that President Bashar Al Assad’s must step down if a political end to Syria’s civil war is to be achieved, echoing similar remarks from Britain.

“A political solution must be reached to end the conflict and meet the aspirations of the Syrian people who, as we know, demand changing the regime and changing President Bashar Al Assad, who insists on killing his people,” Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani told a conference in Doha.

“Any solution must be within this framework,” he said, speaking hours ahead of a meeting in Amman of the Friends of Syria to discuss a US-Russian proposal for peace talks.

Earlier on Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague made similar remarks.

“It is the longstanding view of the UK that [Al] Assad needs to go, and we have never been able to see any solution which involves him staying,” Hague said in Amman.

Shaikh Hamad, whose country is a major supporter of the Syrian opposition, warned that “the whole region risks slipping into long-term instability if we do not move to end the escalation in this conflict” that has killed more than 94,000 people since March 2011.

Earlier this month, the United States and Russia, which back opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, proposed a peace conference to bring together rebels and representatives of Al Assad’s regime.

The regime is expected to send envoys to that meeting, targeted for June, but has said Al Assad’s departure will not be up for discussion.

The foreign ministers of Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and the United States are attending Amman’s meeting.

Shaikh Hamad was speaking at the annual Munich Security Conference, in which government, business and civil society representatives from Europe, the United States and the Middle East are gathered to discuss regional and global security.

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