“Russia has rejected Western calls for Assad to step down. On Thursday, Putin repeated his view that Syria’s leadership could only be decided by the Syrian people, not outside powers.” Full story here.
“[T]he body can be formed while Assad is in office, but once it’s set up and running, there is no role for him”.
“We are not working for Assad to stay in power forever as president. But we are very cognisant of his role in the fight against terrorism and the national unity of that country.”
“We are ready to engage with anyone who is willing to talk about what that political transition in Syria might look like, but we are very clear from our point of view it must involve, at some point, the departure of Bashar al-Assad,”