Syrian President Announces Peace Plan to Resolve Crisis
BEIRUT, January 6 (RIA Novosti) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has proposed a plan to resolve the country's crisis which includes a national reconciliation conference, the formation of a new government and an amnesty.
'The first stage of a political solution would require that regional powers stop funding terrorists. The second stage will be calling a government conference on a national dialogue. The third stage will be the formation of a new government and declaration of an amnesty," Assad said in a speech at the opera house in central Damascus.
In his rare televised speech, which was met with cheering applause by his supporters, Assad denounced the opposition as 'puppets of the West' and said Syria wanted to negotiate with the 'master not the servants.' He said the reconciliation conference would exclude 'those who have betrayed Syria.'
The Syrian leader said a national charter, which will include the main provisions of the new constitution, is to be established at the conference and put to a referendum, leading to parliamentary elections and a new government.
Assad also thanked Russia, China and Iran for their support of Syria and their stance that the Syrian people should alone decide their faith. 'We salute you and we thank you for your support," he said.
At least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict between government forces and the opposition, which comprises groups of all stripes, from Communists and secular liberals to Islamist groups, including Al-Qaeda.
Western powers have insisted on President Bashar al-Assad's departure before the formation of a new government of national unity while Russia insisted that the decision be left to the "Syrian people."
(This article was updated at 3.45 p.m. adding details)
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