Russia to propose 18-month reform in Syria

Russia wants the Syrian government and opposition to agree on launching a constitutional reform process of up to 18 months, followed by early presidential elections, according to a draft document obtained by Reuters Tuesday.

The eight-point proposal does not rule out President Bashar Al-Assad's participation in the elections – something his foes say is impossible if there is to be peace, the news agency revealed.

"(The) popularly elected president of Syria will have the functions of commander-in-chief of the armed forces, control of special services and foreign policy," the document said.

The document also said the Syrian sides should agree on such steps at a future conference to be organized by the United Nations and added that the reform process would not be chaired by Assad, but by a candidate agreed by all sides, according to Reuters.

It further says the Syrian opposition which takes part in the political process must form a "united delegation" and be agreed beforehand.

"(They should) share the goals of preventing terrorists from coming to power in Syria and of ensuring sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Syria, as well as (the) secular and democratic character of the state."

The document comes ahead of another round of talks on Syria scheduled to take place this weekend in Vienna.

But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov denied Moscow had produced a document, saying his country had only come up with "different ideas and proposals" which did not constitute a solid plan.

"We just have different ideas and proposals. It is not a solid plan or Russian initiative," he said, according to Reuters.

The talks in Vienna on Saturday will be a continuation of a dialogue between 17 nations, along with UN and EU representatives, to agree on a plan to end the Syrian civil war.

Neither representatives of the Syria opposition nor President Bashar Al-Assad's regime are expected to attend at this stage of the dialogue, officials said.

But, as with the last round of talks on October 30, Assad's allies Russia and Iran will take place in the next round.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/203209

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