DAMASCUS: Syria’s foreign minister said Saturday his delegation had rejected a US request for direct talks unless Secretary of State John Kerry apologised for his remarks at the Geneva II talks.
“The Americans asked us to negotiate directly with them in Montreux,” Walid Muallem told Syrian state media on the plane home from 10 days of peace talks in the Swiss cities of Montreux and Geneva.
“But we refused to do so before Secretary of State John Kerry apologised for what he said at the conference,” Muallem added, in remarks carried by state news agency SANA.
Syria’s government and opposition began the so-called Geneva II talks on January 22, with the participation of dozens of nations, including Russia, which backs the regime, and the United States, which supports the opposition.
In his opening remarks at the conference, Kerry said Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad “will not be part” of any transitional government.
“There is no way, not possible in the imagination, that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain legitimacy to govern,” Kerry said.
Muallem also dismissed the “coalition of the so-called ‘opposition'” in his comments Saturday.