Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad says he is ready for a planned international peace conference on the crisis in his country but stresses that he will not negotiate with terrorists.
“We don't have conditions except that we reject to negotiate with terrorists” unless they lay down their arms and condemn calls for a foreign military strike against Syria, Assad said in an interview with the state-run Tishreen newspaper.
“The main condition is that the solution should be a Syrian one and the dialogue is political ... but if the dialogue was with weapons so why would we go to Geneva?” he said.
Assad pointed out that the biggest victory for Syria could be achieved by overcoming the foreign-backed militancy, saying, “Yes, we can achieve this victory ... and the first and bigger victory today is for us to eliminate the terrorists.”
"What is important is to believe in this victory ... when faith exists inside all of us that we are capable of achieving victory, certainly we would achieve that victory,” he added.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to the UN, more than 100,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million of others displaced due to the violence.
On May 7, Russia and the US agreed to convene an international conference on Syria which is likely to be held in Geneva in mid-November. The event will serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012.
However, the date of the event keeps slipping as Syria’s foreign-backed opposition coalition remains divided over taking part in the second round of Geneva talks. They have repeatedly refused to take part in the conference unless Assad steps down.