Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave office as soon as a transitional authority is set up, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saturday, insisting there is no way he can retain power.
Talks between the regime and Syrian opposition, due to resume next week in Geneva, aim to set up a political transition process to end the country's five-year-old war. A UN-brokered international roadmap foresees a transitional authority by the middle of this year and elections by mid-2017.
"Assad has to leave at the beginning of the process," the Saudi minister, whose country backs the Syrian opposition, told reporters in Paris. Referring to the sequence of events, he said: "There is a transitional body, power shifts from Assad to the transitional body, and then he goes."
After that "the transitional body drafts a constitution, prepares for elections. Some are arguing that no, Bashar leaves at the elections in 18 months, that's not how we think."
"For us it is very clear, he leaves at the beginning of the process, not at the end." (READ MORE)