US Secretary of State John Kerry said there is no possible way that Syrian leader Bashar Assad can gain the legitimacy to govern his country. However, Kerry also said only Syrians can remove Assad. (Jan. 22)
ASSOCIATED PRESS - TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY
Montreaux, Switzerland - 22 January, 2014
1. SOUNDBITE (English) John Kerry, US Secretary of State:
"Now we need to deal with reality here. We really need to deal with reality. Mutual consent, which is what has brought us here for a transition government means that that government can't be formed with someone who's objected to by one side or the other. That means that Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government. There is no way, no way possible in the imagination, that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern. One man and those who support him can no longer hold an entire nation and a region hostage."
The head of Syria's Western-backed opposition says any discussion of President Bashar Assad staying in power will effectively end peace talks before they have begun.
Ahmad al-Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition, said the purpose of the peace conference beginning Wednesday in Switzerland was to set up a transitional government.
He said "this is the only topic for us," speaking minutes after Assad's foreign minister.
The peace talks in the Swiss city of Montreux marked the first time the opposition and the Syrian government will sit down face to face since their dispute began in March 2011.