Syrian opposition leader demands a future without President Assad
Syria's opposition leader laid out his demands for talks on ending his country's civil war, calling for the creation of a transitional government that does not include President Bashar al-Assad.
Ahmed Jarba told reporters in Geneva, where rival sides in the Syrian conflict are tomorrow due to begin several days of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations and major world powers, that he was looking to a future without Assad.
In a defiant speech, Jarba said the international community now realised that Assad cannot stay in power.
"We have started to look into the future without him. Assad and all of his regime is in the past now. Nobody should have any doubt that the head of the regime is finished. This regime is dead," Jarba said.
Moscow, Assad's major backer, had given assurances that it was not "holding on" to Assad, Jarba said.
Assad's officials, who left talks with a UN envoy without making any statement, have insisted that the Syrian president is not going anywhere.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also said there was no sign Assad was ready to quit, although he insisted the Syrian leader had no place in his country's future.
"This is a man who has committed war crimes and still somehow wants to claim legitimacy to be able to govern the country," Kerry said in an interview with Al-Arabiya television.
But Kerry said there could be a place for officials from Assad's government in a transitional government as long as they "do not have blood on their hands".