Russia: We’re Not Looking to Replace Assad

Russia has no plans to “deport” Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to that country, the Russian ambassador to Lebanon said Thursday.

The ambassador was denying reports that have recently appeared in the European press that such a move was “imminent,” and that it was the best way to stem the growth of ISIS and other Islamist radicals.

According to the reports, countries that met at the G7 Summit in Germany this week discussed ways of defusing the tensions in Syria.

Removing Assad, according to some members of the diplomatic corps, would reduce the hostility in Syria and encourage the warring factions to lay down their arms.

Elections could be held, and a new system that would allow for all of the country's diverse ethnic and religious groups could be worked out.

The matter was discussed in a private meeting between US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

British media quoted a source at the meeting as saying that “there was a pretty frank and realistic exchange about the situation on the ground in terms of the moderate opposition and their ability to take or be holding ground from either the regime or from [ISIS]." 

"But they were both a bit more optimistic about the political process. The idea is that it might be possible to work with the Russians on a transition with a different leadership in Syria.”

Cameron, the source said, “has spoken to President Putin about this and it was also discussed by the American Secretary of State John Kerry when he visited Russia recently.”

Ambassador Alexander Zaspikin, however, shot the idea down. In an interview with a Beirut newspaper, Zapiskin said “the leadership of Syria is an internal Syrian matter and we cannot allow outsiders to interfere with it. Russia is not involved in any of these plans,” he added.



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